By Charlie Warner, Special to the Independent
Aria and Makenzie Fischer returned home to Laguna Beach this week with an exceptional souvenir from Brazil.
By winning the Olympic water polo tournament in convincing fashion, the U.S. women’s team earned another gold medal, and as current world champions, have again proved themselves as a water polo powerhouse. In each game of the tournament, the U.S. won by at least four goals, thanks in part to the Fischer sisters.
The win was historic in several ways; it was the first time in women’s Olympic water polo history a team has won back to-back-gold medals; it was also the largest victory ever in a women’s final, according to the U.S. water polo website. But another record seems to stand out more than the others: Aria Fischer is the youngest U.S. woman to win gold on a team sport in the Summer Olympic Games, the site says.
“I was super excited and honored to represent the USA on the biggest stage in the world, but at the end of the day I was still playing water polo like I have most of my life,” said Aria, in an interview from Brazil. Even as the world watched, Aria was “able to stay pretty calm,” she said of the gold medal match, putting in a stellar performance at center.
Always upbeat and positive, Aria seemed genuine and self-confident. However, she was quick to credit her family for their continuing encouragement to strive to be her best. Parents Erich and Leslie Fischer are both Stanford alumni, who both played college water polo. “I feel like my family supported me through the process because they knew what I was going through. It was especially helpful to have my sister by my side!” said Aria of her aquatic family and gifted sister, Makenzie.
Aria, 17, will be returning to Laguna Beach High School as a senior, where she will play water polo with the high school team, as well as figuring out where she will keep her gold medal, and how to spend her new-found free time. She already has her sights on the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 as well.
Makenzie, 19, scored a total of six goals in the Olympic tournament, including two in the gold medal match. The pair of goals came at key moments of the game, allowing the U.S. to dominate a crumbling Italian defense. “It was a little more exciting for me, I think, but it’s also just partly being in the right place at the right time. We have so many different threats on our team that I wasn’t super concerned with scoring,” said Makenzie, in a display of humility and grace.
Makenzie expressed gratitude over sharing her Olympic success with her sibling. “It was a lot sweeter with Aria by my side! The Olympics is obviously an experience for anyone involved, but I think getting to experience it with my sister just made it 10 times more special,” said Makenzie.
Makenzie looks forward to a month relaxing before heading to Stanford in September. As for her Olympic future, Makenzie is determined and hopeful. “I would like to win another gold medal in Tokyo!” she said.
These two intelligent Olympians are living proof that determination, dedication and ability can yield gold.
Indy intern Charlie Warner is an LBHS graduate.