USA’s 2016 Rio Olympic Gladiators: John Mann


Water Polo

Age: 31
Hometown: Newport Beach, CA
Position: Center
Size: 6’6/250 lbs

A True Beach Boy: If he’d grown up anywhere else, Mann would easily have been an elite tight end on the gridiron, but he was raised in California surf mecca, Newport Beach. “You grow up in the water and a need to be in the water,” he says. “It’s a cultural thing.” 

But the Swimwear Was Hard: “Adjusting to life in a Speedo is not easy,” he says, laughing. “You’re this cool surfer kid with board shorts like everyone else, and now you’re wearing this tiny bikini. But now I’m so comfortable that I could walk around town in it.”

Wearing Weights Underwater: Water polo is a fierce sport, and when Mann isn’t going through his daily sessions—1 1/2 hours of Olympic lifts, 5 1/2 hours in the pool, and medicine ball work while treading water in a 25-pound vest—he does jiu-jitsu. “There’s a lot of grappling at my position. It’s a good technical practice for me.” 

To learn more about all Olympic hopefuls, visit The Rio Olympics begin August 5.

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