The Irvine-based U.S. women’s water polo team won its third straight gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

Bringing the gold home to Irvine

by LORI BASHEDA

It’s a gold medal hat trick for Irvine coach Dan Klatt.

Klatt helped lead the Irvine-based U.S. women’s water polo team to its third consecutive gold medal victory at the Tokyo Olympics last month.

“The best part is the memories,” says Klatt, 42, the team’s assistant coach. “The deed is done. Now, we can reflect on the pain and the joy and all that stuff.”

Since 2019, USA Water Polo has been headquartered in Irvine, training at Woollett Aquatics Center while awaiting completion of a $250 million training facility to be shared with Irvine residents.

“I’m still running on a little bit of a high,” says center defender Alys Williams, 27, who grew up in Orange County. “When we won it was just like the most fun experience of all time. Now we’re just enjoying the ride.”

Assistant Coach Dan Klatt, of Irvine.

Family and friends greeted the team of 13 young women and their coaches when they landed at LAX in August, gold medals around their necks, after 27 days in Japan.

With a record of 128-3 between 2016 and 2020, the team was heavily favored to take gold in Tokyo. In the final match, they routed Spain 14-5.

Klatt says he’s happy to be back at his University Hills home with his wife and 5-year-old twin boys, who just started kindergarten at Vista Verde Elementary.

His Olympic journey actually began in 2004 when he played on the U.S. men’s national water polo team at the games in Athens, Greece. That same year he was named head coach of UCI’s women’s water polo team.

Klatt still holds that job, driving the team’s “ascent toward the top of the water polo landscape.” And gold medalist Williams is one of his assistant coaches.

“Dan’s awesome,” she says. “He gets rave reviews from all of us.”