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Waterworld: Maggie Steffens conquers a grueling sport

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

When’s the last time you practiced treading water while a jug of water was poured onto your head?

For water polo great Maggie Steffens, that little routine is usually followed by a high-speed lap. This is the sort of thing it takes, day after day, to set the Olympic record for most goals in a tournament and become named MVP as you help Team USA win the gold medal in 2012.

That gold medal was followed by another in 2016. Steffens also led her school, Stanford, to two NCAA titles. She has twice been named world player of the year.

While so much attention is lavished on Olympic swimmers, it’s worth remembering that water polo players don’t get to touch the wall or the bottom of the pool, requiring full-body power treading every moment they’re playing. (Core exercises, anyone?) Watch a match in its entirety sometime and you may need a nap from the exhaustion you get just from being a spectator.

Steffens trains six days a week to be the best. The next goal is, naturally, the 2020 Olympics, but she won’t be devoting her life entirely to getting that next gold medal. She intends to pursue a masters degree at Stanford in management science and engineering during her training.

— Adapted from “Pool cue,” Jeremy Fuchs, Sports Illustrated.

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