After an Instant Connection, Traveling the World With a Water Polo Star

Instant chemistry followed them into Havana, a Cuban restaurant in Walnut Creek, Calif., on their first date. “We immediately had this amazing connection where we could be our authentic selves around each other,” Ms. Steffens said. “We were both like, Wow, this is somebody we could marry. It kind of scared both of us.”

Mr. Conner was in love by the time they kissed good night. Within weeks, he was driving to Palo Alto from Marin County every Tuesday, Ms. Steffens’s only day off from practice. “Bobby’s a man of effort.”

In addition to her water polo career, Ms. Steffens is a businesswoman. Before she earned a master’s degree in management and engineering from Stanford in 2018, she helped found the youth athlete analytics company 6-8 Sports. Her international reputation as a professional player was already well-established. In 2017, she joined the pro team in Hungary, where Mr. Conner came to cheer her on. Then, in 2019, when she moved to Barcelona to play, he packed his life up and followed her there. “He was willing to move across the world for me,” she said. They lived together in Spain almost two years, then returned to California at the onset of Covid.

They had already bought the house they still live in, in Long Beach, in 2021 when Ms. Steffens, as captain, led her team to its third Olympic gold medal in Tokyo. The postponement of the 2020 games because of the pandemic had come as a blow after years of training. “It was difficult,” she said. “Bobby was my support system.”

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On July 8, 2022, during a sunset boat ride near their home in Long Beach, he surprised her with a diamond engagement ring that had belonged to his grandmother. Ms. Steffens, who hadn’t made a secret of her readiness to be engaged, was elated.