It should not be too surprising that Pepperdine emerged as a collegiate power in the sport of men's water polo. After all, the picturesque campus is situated just up the hill from the Pacific Ocean and picturesque Malibu beaches, and Raleigh Runnels Memorial Pool was the site of the 1984 Olympic water polo competition.
Pepperdine has advanced to the NCAA Championships 12 times in its history and captured the national crown in 1997 with an 8-7 overtime victory over local rival USC in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Pepperdine teams have compiled an overall record of 682-426-8 (.615). The Waves have won at least a share of a conference title nine times, most recently with Mountain Pacific Sports Federation regular-season crowns in 1997 and 2002.
The Waves have finished in the top 10 in the national rankings every year since 1976 -- that's 36 straight years.
The water polo program was instituted in 1975, and quickly emerged as a national power under the guidance of head coach Rick Rowland. Following a first-place finish in the Pacific Coast Athletic Association in 1977, Pepperdine earned its first trip to the NCAA Championships and finished fourth at the eight-team competition in Providence, R.I.
Rowland served as Pepperdine's head coach for 11 seasons from 1975-85, and directed the program to a cumulative overall record of 247-128-8 (.655). Rowland led Pepperdine to four NCAA Championships appearances (finishing in fourth place each time), and the Waves captured the PCAA tournament title in 1977 and regular-season titles in 1980 and 1984.
Terry Schroeder, who earned three-time All-American honors at Pepperdine and is regarded as both one of the top players and coaches in the sport's history, assumed the head coaching duties prior to the 1986 season.
Before leaving to coach the U.S. National Team after the 2005 season, Schroeder directed Pepperdine to a cumulative 20-year record of 340-220 (.607) and eight NCAA Championships berths, including the 1997 title. The Waves won or shared six regular-season conference titles under his watch.
Schroeder will return as head coach for the 2013 season, following six seasons with alum Jack Kocur in charge and interim coach Gary O'Brien taking over for 2012.
A number of former Pepperdine players have fared well at the international level, including Schroeder, who served as the team captain for the U.S. National Team from 1983-92 and earned a silver medal at both the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games. Other Olympians include Roberto Borelli (Italy, 1984), Geoffrey Clark (Australia, 1988, 1992), Merrill Moses (USA, 2008, 2012) and Jesse Smith (USA, 2004, 2008, 2012). Jeremy Pope was an alternate for the U.S. in 2000.
Smith and Moses won silver medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics under the leadership of Schroeder.
Thirteen Pepperdine players -- Geoffrey Clark, Mike Grier, Alan Herrmann, Adam Hewko, Jack Kocur, Greg Lonzo, Ned Maggiora, Merrill Moses, David Myers, Sasha Poljak, Jeremy Pope, Terry Schroeder and Jesse Smith -- have earned All-American first team honors a total of 21 times. Clark, Schroeder and Smith were All-American first team selections three times, while Grier and Pope were two-time selections.
Grier and Clark were tabbed the NCAA's Player of the Year in 1984 and 1991, respectively, while Herrmann earned similar honors in 1997 from U.S. Water Polo as Pepperdine won its first-ever NCAA crown. Pepperdine men's water polo players have been All-Americans of any sort 85 times.