JC does sports: water polo


In his final edition of "JC does sports," sports columnist JC Canicosa takes on water polo, his wettest sport yet, Dec. 2, 2017 at the University Sports Complex. How did JC survive this oxygen-impaired challenge?

Jc Canicosa

One of my biggest takeaways was how much I had taken breathing for granted before doing water polo. Throughout the entire practice, I felt like Nemo when he tried swimming through the water filter and barely survived.

When the team and I arrived at the University Sports Complex pool, we started off with basic conditioning drills: three laps down the pool and back. While the rest of the team looked like a squad of Michael Phelpses in his prime, I was out there looking like SpongeBob when he attempted to be a lifeguard: trying my best.

And as we moved onto team drills, I started to notice how difficult treading water was getting.

Though simply staying afloat may look effortless to a casual observer of the sport, treading water is much more of a struggle than it appears.

Keeping my head above water was getting really challenging, especially as team captain Dahlia Anais was giving out important instructions on how to do these drills. Because, as I was trying to listen intently to Anais’ instructions, my eyes and ears were intermittently bobbing in and out of the water.

So, to me, her instructions sounded something like, “So, you’re going to wanna—blllgggh blllllgggghh blllgggh blllllggggh—then, catch the ball with one hand and let it come to—bllgh bllgh blllgggh blllllgggghh blllgggh blllllgggghh—and it’s that simple.”

I probably swallowed at least a gallon of pool water when it was all said and done.

As I went through more offensive and defensive drills, I learned how much more goes into the sport than just staying above water and gasping for air every now and then.

On defense, you need to stay between the player and the goal in order to keep them from scoring without fouling. And on offense, you need to try to keep your shoulders above the water when trying to score while trying to get an angle for a shot at the goal.

After getting used to being in the water, this is where the skill and fun of the sport comes into play. But, by the time we got to the scrimmaging part of practice, I was hoping that either the sport of water polo would get easier for me or I would develop a Percy Jackson-esque super power where I can secretly breathe underwater. Neither of those things happened.

And as a result, swimming back and forth trying to help my team score while keeping the other team from doing so was quite difficult.

In fact, what probably stands out to me most was the sheer number of times that I remember sinking to the bottom of the pool thinking, “This is it. This is the end.”

But in all seriousness, water polo is an intense, oxygen-depriving sport that requires a ton of strength and conditioning in order to just keep up. Though barely a year old, the Wolf Pack’s water polo team has created a genuine, contagious atmosphere of fun and camaraderie.

And though the club sport does require a ton of conditioning and skill training in order to start learning how to be good at it, I had never had that much fun almost drowning in my life. So if you’re looking for a fun club sport that will whip you into shape and aren’t that big a fan of breathing air, water polo may the one for you.

Rating: 4/5 leg cramps

Verdict: Sorry Moana, the water does not call to me.