Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Water polo

On Wednesday evening I do a Yoga class in my local gym. Though not an Olympic discipline, or a sport for that matter, I find that yoga has helped improving many aspects of my fitness, my flexibility and my strength in ways beneficial to all the other disciplines I am trying for my Gold Challenge. As yoga goes, it's a pretty intense class. Afterwards, feeling a bit worn, I headed to the pool for a swim down session.

I had forgotten that on Wednesday nights the pool closes early to allow for the water polo club's training session. So I had to cut my swimming session short, but I got the chance to talk and introduce myself to the club. I wasn't intending to undertake water polo just yet, but the club's captain was very friendly and enthusiastic and asked me to try it out and join in the session.

Thinking about it, the same thing happened with the Triathlon club. Then as now, I had no idea what I was getting myself in to. After my first session, I can whole heartedly say that water polo is not a sport for the faint hearted. In fact, so far, it's been the most difficult, demanding and tiring sport I've undertaken.

Having spent months trying to learn how to swim for my triathlon (head in the water, long strides, good symmetrical body swing, steady state tempo and economy in the kicking of the legs) I had to do exactly the opposite for water polo. One swims with the head sticking out, pushing hard with the legs, in short quick bursts, with the ball between the arms while sticking the elbows out trying to keep the adversaries at bay.

I found passing the ball around (with one hand), striking at goal and treading water easier to learn, though the physicality of the sport (where all sorts of underwater kicking, pulling and pushing are allowed) did come as a big shock

After an hour and a half of splashing about, I was totally exhausted. This is a high energy sport: fiercely aggressive, played at breathtaking pace, requiring great amount of full-body movement. Good fun, nevertheless, particularly if you are competitively inclined. It will be a challenge to master.

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