Aria Fischer

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Aria Fischer to become youngest U.S. woman in summer Olympic team sport

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When the U.S. women’s water polo team begins competition in Rio, they’ll attempt to become the first women’s team to collect consecutive Olympic gold medals. Yet, the squad’s youngest player will achieve a historic distinction just by hopping in the pool.

Seventeen-year-old Aria Fischer will be the youngest U.S. woman to compete in a summer team sport at the Olympics. She’ll be the first 17-year-old to do so.

Here is the list as it stands before Rio:
Nancy Lieberman – 18 years and 19 days old – basketball (1976 Games)
Cindy Parlow – 18 years, 75 days – soccer (1996)
Christa Williams – 18 years, 164 days – softball (1996)
Laurie Lewis – 18 years, 298 days – volleyball (1968)
Maggie Steffens – 19 years, 87 days – water polo (2012)
Katelyn Falgowski – 19 years, 290 days – field hockey (2008)
Angie Raynor – 21 years, 124 days – handball (2008)

However, Fischer will not be the youngest U.S. female team sport athlete in all Olympics. Lyndsay Wall was 16 years old when she competed in the 2002 Winter Olympic hockey tournament.

She also will not be the youngest U.S. Olympic water polo player ever, as Bob Saari competed as a 16-year-old at the 1964 Tokyo Games.

But, if the U.S. gets on the podium, Fischer would become the youngest U.S. Olympic water polo medalist, the youngest female Olympic water polo medalist from any nation, and the fourth-youngest water polo medalist all-time.

If the U.S. women defend their title, as they are favored to do, Fischer would be the youngest U.S. woman to win gold in a team sport at the Olympics. She’d be the second-youngest woman from any country, as Cuba’s Regla Torres was a slightly younger 17-year-old when she won volleyball gold in 1992.

Taking men into account, a gold medal would make Fischer the second-youngest of all water polo players to win gold, and the youngest in 64 years. Hungary’s Gyorgy Karpati was a few months younger at the 1952 Helsinki Games.

Those would be some impressive achievements for an already-impressive water polo family. Aria’s older sister, Makenzie, is also on the Rio Olympic team at age 19. And their father, Erich, was a member of the U.S. men’s water polo team that placed fourth at the 1992 Olympics.

NBC Olympics research contributed to this report.

MORE: U.S. Olympic women’s water polo squad set, eyes another gold medal

U.S. Olympic women’s water polo squad set, eyes another gold medal

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The world’s toughest water polo roster to make is set. USA Water Polo announced its 13-member Olympic women’s team Thursday.

The U.S. women are the defending Olympic champions, and have won a medal at every Olympic water polo event. The squad won silver in 2000, bronze in 2004 and silver again in 2008, before gold in 2012.

Entering the 2016 Games, the Americans hold the World Championship, World Cup and World League titles as well, making them the first nation to carry all four major championships at the same time since women’s water polo became an Olympic sport in 2000.

Headlining the roster is Maggie Steffens, a two-time FINA World Player of the Year and the 2012 Olympic tournament MVP. She led all scorers in London with 21 goals while competing as the youngest player on her squad. Later that year she earned her first Player of the Year honor; two years later she became the first woman to receive the award twice.

She’s now the U.S. team’s leader and captain at 23 years old.

It’s one of the youngest rosters the U.S. has ever assembled. It features no one in their 30s, which is a first for any U.S. Olympic men’s or women’s water polo team since 1972, according to sports-reference.com.

The youngest member of the squad is 17-year-old Aria Fischer, who becomes the youngest U.S. Olympic water polo player since 1964, and youngest-ever U.S. Olympic women’s water polo player, according to sports-reference.com. She’s joined on the squad by her older sister, Makenzie, who’s 19. Their father, Erich, was a member of the U.S. men’s water polo team that placed fourth at the 1992 Olympics.

Another teenager is Maddie Musselman, who received an Olympic berth on her 18th birthday.

The oldest woman on this squad is Courtney Mathewson at 29, who was also a part of the gold-medal winning 2012 team. Kami Craig, who will turn 29 on July 21, is the team’s most experienced player, as Rio will mark her third Olympics. Melissa Seidemann is the only other woman from the 2012 Olympic team.

In goal for the Americans will be Ashleigh Johnson, a 21-year-old who will become the first black woman to play water polo for the U.S. Olympic team. She’s also the only player on the roster not from California; Johnson is a Florida native. The other goalie is Sami Hill.

Rounding out the squad are KK Clark, Rachel Fattal, Kiley Neushul and Kaleigh Gilchrist, who hopes to be a surfer at the 2020 Olympics.

MORE: U.S. women’s water polo team qualifies for Rio Olympics