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Maria Ochoa of Cabrillo High School is 2016 Olympic Hopeful

Maria Ochoa swimming in the new Cabrilllo High School swimming poolWhen the 2016 Summer Olympics begin in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, Maria Ochoa may be among the U.S. athletes competing in water polo. The 14-year-old freshman at Cabrillo High School is on the U.S. Olympic Development Team and is considered one of the top female water polo players in the state.

Having first learned to swim at three months old, Ochoa has been competing since she was five and has been team captain of her club water polo team, Northwood in Irvine, for the past nine years. She has earned high-point trophies for three years in a row and was named to the All-American junior team by USA Water Polo in 2012.

Now, she is proud to be able to swim for her school. The Long Beach native is expected to be the star on both Cabrillo High’s new girls’ swim and water polo teams, set to begin competing next year.

For the first time since it was built 19 years ago, Cabrillo High has a competition-size aquatic center, which will enable the school to field water sports teams and host meets.

Opened last September, the pool is now being used for swim class, team practice and practice meets. Future intramural varsity and JV swimmers and water polo players are practicing daily, and coaches have been hired to train the teams.

“Maria is a great competitor and a natural leader,” said Nick Graffis, a former Long Beach City College water polo champ, who is coach of the Cabrillo High girls’ water polo team. “She is not only a star athlete, but is also humble and helpful to the other team members.”

As the second of four children, Ochoa said she takes inspiration from her older sister, Sabina, a college student who was a junior swim and water polo champ. Their mother, Vicky Ochoa, a veterinarian, signed up all her children for swim lessons as infants.

As a serious competitor, Ochoa spends up to six hours a day, six days a week in the pool and competes virtually every weekend. She also plays on the Cabrillo High varsity soccer team.

“I just love sports – I love to be moving around and in action,” she said. “I’m happiest in the water.”

After high school, she hopes to major in sports medicine at USC and to compete in water polo at the collegiate level. But first, she wants to lead Cabrillo High to victory over rivals Wilson and Poly high schools.

And then there’s the 2016 Olympics, of course.

Go to Cabrillo High School Aquatic Center project page and view Maria's interview.

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