She also found inspiration and support through her teammates, both past and present.
"Playing against older, more experienced players was and still is a theme of my water polo career," Dries said. "By competing with the best, you have to find another level to stay in the pool. But more than that, it was my teammates' and coaches' belief that I could be better and ultimately make the Olympic team. I am so grateful for the opportunities that were given to me, and the support I had through my high school, club and national teams."
The U.S. team holds three-hour practice sessions twice a day, four times a week, plus a three-hour practice on Wednesdays and Saturdays at the Los Alamitos Joint Force Training Base. The team leaves Saturday for China to compete at an eight-team World League Super Finals tournament that will include five teams it will see at the Olympic Games in London.
The team also will play four exhibition games against Hungary beginning July 2 at Stanford and conclude their series July 8 at Corona del Mar High.
After that, it's off to London. Krikorian said the team will check into the Olympic Village on July 23. Opening Ceremonies are July 27 and the U.S. will play its first tournament game on July 30 against Hungary.
Dries can't wait for the Games.
"I am honored to represent the United States of America and to be a part of a community of people who strive every day the be the very best," she said.
The very best is something Dries has been for quite some time.
"After she had only been playing for a year, I was asked by other coaches how it felt to have the best 14-Under girl in the nation on my team," Beeler said. "My answer was, 'It feels great,' but the best part is that Annika is great at many other things, as well, and she is one of the smartest people I know.
"Annika has only just begun her road to success and I can only hope that what she has accomplished and will accomplish will be inspiring to the future Laguna Beach Water Polo kids."