Thursday, January 26, 2023
SoCal Legends: Max Irving
By Amanda Scurlock, Sports writer
Published August 26, 2021

Max Irving helped UCLA win three NCAA titles in men’s water polo (Courtesy Photo)

Max Irving found tremendous success in water polo. His skill and talent led him to UCLA and a pro career overseas. He also competed with Team USA Men’s water polo during the Tokyo Olympics.

Being an African American in a predominantly white sport is a special honor for Irving as he gets a chance to represent the Black community when he competes.

“If I can be an inspiration just to maybe one kid to try something new, or just to encourage them that they can do anything within or outside the realm of sports, then I think my playing career will have been an absolute success,” Irving said.


Irving, a native of Long Beach, began swimming with the Seal Beach Swim Club at seven years old. When he was 10, he began playing water polo. He then competed with the youth teams at Shore Aquatics.

He attended Long Beach Wilson High School and helped the boys’ water polo team win the CIF division II championship. In 2012, Irving served as the team captain. His efforts that season put him on the All-American first team. Irving became a three-time letterwinner in water polo. He also competed with the Newport Water Polo Club.

After high school, Irving attended UCLA and majored in political science. After redshirting during his freshmen year, Irving helped the Bruins win three NCAA championships.

In 2015, Irving came in second on the team in steals with 30. The next year, he became a third team All-American with 37 assists, 25 steals, and 12 blocks. In 2017, Irving was named on the All-NCAA first team.

During his career at UCLA, Irving started in 78 of the 104 games he played in. He executed 133 goals, 102 assists, 105 steals, and 40 blocks.

Irving has been a member of Team USA Men’s water polo since 2017 and competed in several FINA Intercontinental tournaments and world championships. In 2021, Team USA came in second in the FINA World League Super Final in Athens Greece. He scored nine goals, coming in second in Team USA in the category.


In the Olympics, Team USA men’s water polo came in sixth place.

Irving also competed with Olympiacos in the A1 Ethniki League in Greece. He helped the team win the 2020 Greek Super Cup Championship.

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