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Diving into hockey

Andrew Paoli, Sports Staff

Photo by Mark Brekels

Imagine hockey, but instead of playing on top of the ice, you are playing in the water underneath the ice. That’s essentially what underwater hockey is. It is a sport played by few, but can be extremely entertaining. In addition, it can be enjoyed and played my all ages. As long as one is able to swim and compete for the duration of the game then they can play unlike other sports where age can severely affect your skill. Underwater hockey was invented by Alan Blake in 1954 in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately for the people that participate in underwater hockey, it isn’t yet an Olympic sport. Although there is a men and a women’s USA underwater hockey team, the biggest stage they can play on is the World Championships.
In underwater hockey, players can be seen wearing equipment as if they are going snorkeling. While wearing masks, fins, snorkels, players use sticks to attempt to hit the puck into goals that are at opposite ends of the pool submerged underwater. It is a very tough job for the goalie, he has to be able to keep himself submerged underwater, while maintaining the momentum to swing his arms about to block the incoming puck. The regulation depths of the water is between six and eight feet.
There are six players on each team. The game consists of fifteen minute halves and three minute half times. They hold their breath underwater while jostling with the other team for possession of the puck. It can be a rough sport sometimes and many penalties are awarded for foul play. Minor fouls may result in losses of possession while more serious fouls are deemed penalty shots for the person who got fouled.
In order to be good at underwater hockey, one needs to have strong swimming skills and speed combined with the ability to hold their breath for long periods of time. Often, swimmers adapt better to the sport and become more successful.
Although it isn’t very popular, underwater hockey is a fun sport and can be played in a pool in your very own backyard. If you are looking for a new sport to try or just something fun to do with friends then maybe underwater hockey is a good activity for you.