John Tanner enters his 17th season at the helm of the Stanford women's water polo program. An experienced and enthusiastic coach, Tanner took on the developing program in 1997 and has since turned it into a nationally-ranked powerhouse that has produced three NCAA Championships (2002, 2011, 2012), four MPSF Championships, 18 U.S. Senior National Team members, and nine Olympians.
Under Tanner's watch, Stanford is the only women's water polo program in the nation to have competed at all 13 NCAA Championships since its inception in 2001, and has finished in the top-three nationally each season since he came on board. Tanner now holds a 380-59 (.866) career coaching record at Stanford.
Since 2004, Stanford women's water polo players have also earned a total of 88 selections to the ACWPC Academic List.
Over each of the past four seasons (2010-13) Tanner has led the Cardinal to the NCAA Championship Game, capturing NCAA titles in 2011 and 2012. During that span Stanford has accumulated a record of 109-9 (.924). In addition to his being named ACWPC Coach of the Year in 2012, Tanner has had his players earn 25 All-America honors and capture each of the past three Peter J. Cutino Awards: Annika Dries (2011), Kiley Neushul (2012) and Melissa Seidemann (2013).
In 2008 and 2009, Tanner guided the Cardinal to a combined record of 53-9 and a pair of third-place national finishes at the National Collegiate Women's Water Polo Championship. He was also named MPSF Coach of the Year for the fifth time in 2008. Stanford had eight All-America nods over those two seasons while Seidemann (2009) and goalie Amber Oland (2008) were each named MPSF Newcomer of the Year, laying the foundation for the Cardinal's national championship-winning squads of 2010 and 2011.
Stanford went 91-20 from 2004-07, reaching the NCAA Championship Game twice (2005, 2007) and finishing third nationally in 2004 and 2006. Tanner was named MPSF Coach of the Year in 2007, and over this four-year span his team boasted a total of 17 All-Americans.
Tanner's Cardinal teams reached the NCAA title game at each of the first three NCAA Tournaments from 2001-03, winning the program's first title in 2002. The Cardinal posted a combined record of 71-6 over this span while Tanner earned consecutive MPSF Coach of the Year nods in 2002 and 2003.
The 2003 team captured the MPSF Tournament title and featured MPSF Player of the Year Brenda Villa and Goalie of the Year Jackie Frank. Villa and Frank would become Stanford's first recipients of the Peter J. Cutino Award, capturing the honor in 2002 and 2003, respectively.
In 2002, the Cardinal captured its first NCAA Championship and finished the season with a 23-2 record. The Cardinal earned its first NCAA title with the help of five All-Americans.
In 2001, the Cardinal became the first collegiate team to remain undefeated during the regular season, but suffered its only loss in the national championship game and finished the year with a 27-1 record.
In his first year as head coach in 1998, Tanner led Stanford to a 29-6 record and a third-place finish at the Collegiate National Championships. That same year, he earned his first MPSF Coach of the Year honor, having at the time led the Cardinal to its most successful season in the history of the program.
The 1999 and 2000 Cardinal squads finished second and third, respectively, at the Collegiate Nationals, with a combined record of 53-11 over the two seasons.
A former Stanford water polo All-American himself, Tanner returned to his alma mater with a fortune of knowledge gained from years of coaching, both at the collegiate and international levels. Tanner has been involved with United States Water Polo in various capacities from 1988 to the present. He was the assistant coach of the U.S. Men's National Team that placed sixth at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. He garnered the second World Championship of his career in 1997 as the Americans captured the World Cup in Athens, Greece.
Tanner began his international coaching career in 1988 as a scout coach for the U.S. National "A" Team. In December of 1998, he was appointed as head coach of the U.S. National "B" Team, a position he held until early 1991. In March of 1991, he was named the assistant coach of the U.S. Olympic Team. He helped the U.S. squad capture gold at the 1991 World Cup and a fourth-place finish at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
In 1980, while a student-athlete at Stanford, Tanner became involved with coaching when he served as the head coach at Menlo-Atherton High School for one season. He then coached Menlo School for the 1983 season. In 1984, he served as an assistant coach for the Stanford men's water polo team under his former coach Dante Dettamanti, when the team advanced to the NCAA title match and finished the year with a 25-5 mark.
Following the 1984 season, Tanner was hired as the head coach of the men's water polo team at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. In 1988, he was named the school's Director of Aquatics and the head coach of the men's swimming program, holding all three titles until his appointment at Stanford in 1996. His teams finished in the top 15 in the nation all of his 12 years and in the top-10 each of his last 10 years. He captured Big West Conference Coach of the Year in 1991, and in 1993 his squad finished fifth at the NCAA Championships.
As the men's swimming coach at Pacific, he led the Tigers to a top-20 finish at the NCAA Tournament and coached Brad Schumacher, Pacific's first and only Olympic gold medalist in any sport. Tanner served as Schumacher's coach at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, where he earned two gold medals as a member of the U.S. 4x100-meter and 4x200-meter free relay teams.
Originally recruited from Menlo-Atherton High School to swim at Stanford, Tanner instead played on the water polo team his freshman year, beginning a career (1978-82) that spanned three national championships and culminated in All-America honors his senior year. Tanner, a left-handed driver, started for the Cardinal in 1981 and helped lead Stanford to a perfect 31-0 record and its fourth national crown. The undefeated season was only the second in NCAA water polo history. Tanner ranked sixth on the team in goals in 1981, with 27, and was named All-America Honorable Mention.
In 1982, he finished his career with a 48-goal performance, tying for second on the squad, and helped lead the Cardinal to a 27-5 record and its third-straight NCAA championship match appearance. Tanner was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team, and, for his efforts throughout the season, earned All-America honors.
He graduated in December 1982 with a bachelor's degree in political science. In addition to coaching, Tanner has been a prominent member of several committees with United States Water Polo. He has served on the men's and women's National Team Head Coach Selection Committees, the Men's International/Olympic Committee and the National Coaches Committee. Tanner is also a member of the American Water Polo Coaches Association and United States Water Polo, Inc.