Water polo demands painful physical challenges

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Darius Livingston, Sports Editor

Maneuvering around six bodies as they try to block the ball from being hurled at a goal is a challenging task. Trying to do it while staying afloat in the water is even more daunting.

Recently, ESPN ranked 60 of the most demanding sports, with the number one spot going to boxing and fishing coming in last. Water polo ranked 11th — but don’t tell those numbers to members of BCHS’s water polo team. With a host of bruises, cuts, bloody noses, aches and pains, these athletes will argue their sport deserves a spot in the top three.

Those unfamiliar with the demands of the sport believe it is easy to play in water polo — just simply tread water while throwing a ball across a pool. However, water polo takes an enormous amount of core strength, stamina and endurance.
Newer players often find it difficult to complete a full practice session because of demanding drills structured into one practice.

“The workouts are very challenging at times,” freshman Kyle Fry said. “I have to sit out sometimes because I can’t complete all of the workouts.”

Even athletes who have prestigious backgrounds in other sports find it hard to make the transition to a water sport.

“Coming from a running sport, it was a hard transition,” junior track athlete Emma Snyder said. “The workouts are very demanding and difficult. Water polo is both mentally and physically challenging.”

Most athletes have experienced accidents and injuries due to rough play; however, things can elevate to a dangerous level while in the water.

“My old friend Nathan Andrade got three teeth knocked out in a middle of a game,” senior water polo player Austin Evans said. “We had to look for his teeth at the bottom of the pool at the end of the game.”

Varsity water polo coach Herbert Vochatzer says that water polo is one of the most challenging sports.

“The best water polo players are a combination of a swimmer, wrestler and baseball player,” Vochatzer said. “You can’t even play the game without being in good shape; my players swim at least three to four miles a day.”

Not only does water polo require rigorous training, players must often endure intense pain as well.

“One time this kid kept kneeing me and choking me from behind,” junior Dalin Nelson said. “It got to the point where I couldn’t take it anymore. So when his thumb ended up in my mouth I bit down on his thumb and drew blood.”

Water polo connects the aspects of teamwork, sacrifice and both mental and physical toughness. Think again before assuming that water polo is a gentle sport that anybody can play.