Guy Baker is entering his 10th year as director of the UCLA water polo program, and has consistently guided the Bruin men and women to a level of collegiate water polo excellence. Between 1995-99, Baker guided six Bruin teams to national championships, including four consecutive men’s and women’s crowns beginning with the men in ’95. Under Baker’s leadership, UCLA is also the first water polo program to win men’s and women’s national championships in the same year, a feat the Bruins accomplished three times, including two years in a row. Baker’s teams are the first UCLA programs to win national men’s and women’s titles in consecutive academic years since volleyball in the 1974-75 and 1975-76 seasons.
Baker’s collegiate successes have led to opportunities on the international water polo scene. Baker will not be with the team when the men’s season begins, as he is the head coach for the U.S. Women’s National team competing in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. In 1998 Baker was named head coach for the U.S. Women’s National Team, only a year after he served as an assistant coach for the Men’s U.S. National Team.
The 1999 season culminated a decade of dominance by the Bruins in the sport of water polo. Baker was named NCAA Coach of the Year for guiding UCLA to its third national crown in five years. Under his tutelage, the Bruins also captured the MPSF title, marking the first time a team had won both the NCAA and MPSF title since the adoption of a four-team championship format in 1995. Junior Sean Kern was named NCAA Player of the Year and NCAA Tournament MVP, while six Bruins earned All-America accolades. The squad recorded a 22-3 overall record, 8-0 in the MPSF.
The 1998 UCLA men’s team finished third in the nation with an overall record of 17-6, and a 6-2 record against MPSF foes. Three Bruins earned All-MPSF and All-America honors.
The 1997 men’s squad finished sixth in the nation despite losing nine veteran players from the ’95 and ’96 championship teams. UCLA put together a 14-12 season, and split its eight conference matches. The Bruins were honored in the postseason with four players selected to the All-MPSF and All-America teams.
“The Fabulous Baker Boys” won a second consecutive NCAA title in 1996, stealing the crown from crosstown rival USC by a score of 8-7. The trophy marked UCLA’s fifth men’s water polo championship. The squad recorded a 24-6 overall record, 6-2 in MPSF action. Baker and senior netkeeper Matt Swanson were honored with Coach and Player of the Year awards for the second consecutive season. Four Bruins placed on All-America teams. Swanson was named the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player.
In 1995, the UCLA men ended a storybook season by winning their fourth NCAA Championship and first in 23 years. Baker collected his second Coach of the Year award, amassing a 20-6 overall record and a perfect 8-0 MPSF mark. Swanson was named NCAA Player of the Year and co-MVP of the NCAA Tournament along with teammate Jim Toring.
In 1994, the 17-14 Bruins finished fourth at the NCAA Tournament, with two Bruins earning All-America honors. In 1993, the Bruins were 14-13 overall, finishing the season rated No. 6. In 1992, the Bruins finished 10-13 overall and ended the season at No. 6 in the country. During his first season at UCLA in 1991, Baker led the Bruins to a second-place NCAA finish, marking UCLA’s highest NCAA finish since 1988. The Bruins were 19-10 and three members of the squad earned All-America honors, including current U.S. National Team goalkeeper Dan Hackett. For his first-year accomplishments, Baker was named the NCAA Coach of the Year.
In women’s water polo, “three-peat” was the key word for Baker’s 1998 UCLA women’s team, as the Bruins captured a third consecutive National Collegiate Championship. Baker and junior Coralie Simmons repeated their national honors, and UCLA placed six players on All-America teams. The Bruins lost only one game throughout the season and added another MPSF Championship to their collection. UCLA was 35-1, 8-0 in conference action, and increased its three-year record to an astounding 95-3.
The 1997 UCLA women’s water polo team was a crucial part of Baker’s dynasty, bringing home a second collegiate national championship in the program’s third year. The Bruins amassed a 31-1 record, were undefeated at 6-0 in conference play, and finished the season with a 29-game win streak. Simmons was named National Player of the Year, and Baker took home the National Coach of the Year honors.
In 1996, only the second year of women’s water polo existence, Baker led the Bruins to their first national title and earned MPSF Southern Division Coach of the Year honors. UCLA lost only one game throughout the entire season.
In his women’s water polo coaching debut, Baker’s 1995 squad posted a 13-11 overall record and placed fifth nationally. Beyond his collegiate coaching endeavors, Baker gained additional international coaching experience when he was named an assistant on the USA Olympic men’s water polo team in March 1992. The American squad placed fourth in Barcelona, where Baker’s duties included scouting and training U.S. goalkeepers. In Baker’s second tour as an assistant coach for USA Men’s Water Polo, the team took first place at the 1997 FINA Cup in Athens, Greece, and participated in the World Championships in Australia.
Baker arrived on the Westwood campus in June 1991 after serving as an assistant coach at Long Beach State from 1985-90, where he also taught physical education and English. He coached the Olympic Sports Festival West team to a gold medal in 1989 and was a participant in the 1985 and 1991 Olympic Sports Festivals, winning gold medals in both competitions.
Baker’s success as a coach may be attributed to his accomplishments as a player. As a senior, he earned All-America honors as a member of the 1983 Long Beach State team that finished third nationally. During his second season of collegiate water polo in 1981, he was named the Most Valuable Player at the Junior College State Championships as a member of the Golden West championship team. As a freshman starter on the 1979 UC Santa Barbara NCAA Championship team, Baker had the distinction of beating UCLA to win the title. A three-time All-American at Indio HS, his Rajah squad won the 1977 CIF Championship.
A 1987 graduate of Long Beach State, Baker, 39, has a B.A. in English literature. He enjoys reading and spending time with his two daughters, Samantha (10) and Christen (seven), and fiance Michelle Pickering. Baker currently resides in Long Beach.