Always in the Pool: Water Polo's Peter Varellas
Photo: John Todd/Stanfordphoto.com
By Sam Scott
In each of his four seasons on the Farm (2002-2005), Varellas, '06, helped lead the Cardinal to the NCAA championship game, including the national title win in 2002. As a senior, he was named Pac-10 Stanford Male Athlete of the Year. Varellasplayed professionally with Rari Nantes Savona in Italy from 2006 to 2010. In 2008, he made his Olympic debut, scoring five goals and passing seven assists to help lead Team USA to the silver medal at the Beijing Games. In 2010 to begin his first season as a volunteer assistant coach for Stanford. Varellas and Team USA begin play on July 29.
We recently saw a photo of water polo player Peter Hudnut, '03, MBA '11, without his front teeth, reminding us of the violence of your sport. If bowling is a one and the NFL is a 10, how violent is water polo? Do people exaggerate how much goes on under the water?
I would rate water polo at about a seven. There isn't quite the constant violence that you might find on every play in an NFL game, but several times in any given water polo game, some guys are going to get hit hard. The unique part of our sport is that the majority of your body is under water and therefore out of the view of referees. A lot can go on down there.
Your final group game is against Hungary, winners of the past three Olympic gold medals. How does such a small nation play so big? What’s the key to beating them?
People often wonder how a relatively small country like Hungary can compete with the United States on a sporting stage. In water polo, the answer is fairly simple. There are more young athletes that play the sport in Hungary than in the United States. Water polo is the national sport there, and children grow up wanting to be water polo players much like they might want to make it to the NBA or MLB in America. Furthermore, with well-paying professional leagues in Europe, water polo there is viewed as a potential career and a way for some to make money and change their life.
The keys to beating the Hungarians are to control their transition offense by playing in a controlled manner when we have the ball. Then, on defense, we require smart play and a lot of good shot-blocking, both from our goalie as well as the field players.
How much time do you spend in the pool training? What do you eat on a typical day to get the necessary calories?
Our typical week is 30 hours of training. This includes time in the water as well as in the gym. My breakfast is always the same: Greek yogurt with blueberries, granola and honey on top. Lunch varies, but I love big sandwiches, especially from Whole Foods. A key for me is to be sure to fit in two more meals before the end of the day. I usually eat again around 5 p.m. and then dinner (because of our training schedule) at 10 p.m.
How do you prep for the day of a game? Do you have any rituals or routines to get in the zone?
My game day routine is mainly focused on when and what to eat as well as my specific game warm up. When on the road, which is where we play most tournaments, finding the same food I like at home might be hard, but eating at he right time of day is still under our control. My physical game warm up hasn't changed in 10 years, and it helps give me the confidence to know that I am fully prepared. I also will try to get a short nap sometime during the day before a night game.
- Be the first one to add a comment. You must log in to comment.
- 2012 STANFORD OLYMPIC ROSTER
- All Business: Rower David Banks
- Goal, Gold: Soccer's Rachel Buehler
- Doubling Down: Tennis Players Mike and Bob Bryan
- Get Faster: Rower Jake Cornelius
- 'Beyond Unthinkable': Kenyan swimmer Jason Dunford
- Grappling for Gold: Wrestler Matt Gentry
- Redemption in 26.2 Miles: Marathoner Ryan Hall
- Twister: Diver Kristian Ipsen
- America's Hope: Synchronized swimmer Mariya Koroleva
- Hurdles Cleared: Hurdler Amaechi Morton
- The Comeback Canadian: Swimmer Tobias Oriwol
- Defending the Kiwis: Soccer's Ali Riley
- From the Pool to Ethiopia: Austrian Swimmer Markus Rogan
- Power Player: Water Polo's Jessica Steffens
- Flying to London: Pole Vaulter Katerina Stefanidi
- The Fighter: Gymnast Kristina Vaculik
- 'So Far From Done': Beach Volleyball's Kerri Walsh
- "It's Go Time": Diver Cassidy Krug
The Effort Effect
Let Me Introduce Myself
Seeing at the Speed of Sound
Dunder Mifflin Going Out of Business
Data is from the past two weeks.