Athlete Tara Bharadia

Tara and Aminah

Name: Tara Bharadia
Age: 17
School: Palos Verdes High School
Sport: Water Polo
Position: 4/5-attacker
Team: PVHS girls water polo and Socal club
How long have you participated in this sport?
In fourth grade, about eight years ago, I decided that I didn’t want to play tennis anymore
because I wanted a team sport. My sister was playing water polo at the time, so my mom
suggested I try it. I went to one practice and immediately fell in love.
Who is your favorite coach, teacher, or mentor?
One of my favorites is my club coach, Molly. She works us really hard so that we can be strong
and get better. She’s real with us but she is also super funny and knows how to make us laugh.
My other favorite coach is my sister, Aminah. When she first started coaching it was hard to keep water polo separate from our relationship and we even had a few fights over it. But toward the end of the season, she would tell me what I was doing well and also give me some constructive criticism. Now we have a good time on and off the pool deck and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Who do you look up to in this sport? Who are your heroes?
When I first got into the sport I looked up to my sister and I was like “Wow, I want to be that good someday.” As I have improved, I now look up to Maddie Musselman. She plays for UCLA and is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and the highest leading scorer.
Where do you normally practice?
For high school water polo, we practice at the high school pool. For club water polo, I practice in Santa Ana which is about one hour each way.
Have you met anyone famous in this sport?
I have met a lot of the senior women's national team, as well as Tony Azavedo, a five-time olympian. I was fortunate enough to go to Tony and Maggie’s camps and learn skills from the best of the best.
Have you traveled anywhere related to this sport?
This sport is mainly in California. I have traveled to Northern California for Junior Olympics and
Las Vegas for the Founder’s Cup.
What events or tournaments have you participated in?
I have participated in many tournaments, but the main ones have been Cal Cup, Junior Olympics qualifications, and Junior Olympics. I have also participated in both CIF and ODP (Olympic development program) national championships.
What awards or honors have you won? MVP and captain award (junior and senior year), second team Bay league (junior year), first team Bay league (senior year), Outstanding Academic All-American.
What have you learned from participating in this sport?
I have learned that confidence is key. It took me a while to build up confidence, but I noticed
that when I finally became confident, I improved. I also learned that instead of being hard on myself about mistakes, I should learn from them. I will take both of these lessons with me throughout my life because they are important no matter what you are doing.
What do you like most about water polo?
I like that it is a team sport. I had tried solo sports previously and didn’t really like them. In this team sport, you really feel like you have a second family, as you go through so many ups and downs with them. You have to be somewhat close with people on your team so that you know what moves they are going to make next and what move you can make to help them so that the offensive or defensive play runs smoothly.
What is your favorite moment or memory in the sport?
I remember this moment vividly. I was participating in my first junior Olympics at ten years old. I was swimming up the pool with the ball, with nobody near me (I outswam them all), and I scored my first-ever goal in water polo. I remember looking at my dad in the stands and he was standing up and cheering me on.
Another favorite memory is when my club team won second place in the gold division at the Junior Olympics. Even though we lost that championship game, we had worked so hard to get there. It is a tournament that requires a lot of endurance because you are playing two or three games a day for four days in a row.
Do you plan on continuing your sport after graduating?
I just finished high school season and my shoulder is still recovering from that, so I am waiting
to see. I recently was accepted to the University of Michigan, so I might walk on the team or play for a club team at the university.
Do you have any tips for someone looking to get into water polo?
It looks like a rough sport, and it is, but do not let that discourage you. It takes many many years
to master all the skills and still you have so much to learn. As long as you condition yourself through swimming and learning all the skills, and keep practicing and forming good habits, you will continue to improve. Becoming stronger outside of the pool (lifting weights) helps too.