It does not get its own highlight segment on SportsCenter, you probably cannot name its top professional players and the uniforms are a little tighter than in most other sports. But, do not be fooled, water polo is one of the most grueling sports out there.
Here are 10 things to know about the sport mostly known just for its unique attire.
1. Water polo has been around for a long time
Long before the NFL, NBA or NHL came into existence, athletes were playing water polo. The sport has been played since the late 19th century, and it was one of the first team sports to be in the Olympics, beginning in 1900.
2. Players do not touch the bottom of the pool during practice or games
This sounds simple enough, but these athletes have to tread water for close to 40 minutes per game, and on average will swim just under two miles every game. These are grueling physical feats; to prepare, players practice a minimum of 20 hours per week.
3. It is illegal to touch the ball with two hands
This rule applies to both offensive and defensive players. This causes players to learn to be ambidextrous. The only person in the pool who is exempt from this rule is the goaltender.
4. You use every muscle in your body
This is due to the fact that this is a water sport. In the process of treading, swimming, throwing and scrapping, the players work all of the major muscle groups, including the respiratory ones.
5. It gets messy under water
When it comes to what happens under the water, anything goes. Punching, kicking and scratching are all frequent parts of a water polo game. There are penalties when someone intentionally punches someone or has malicious intent, but penalties only apply when the official sees it.
6. Players do not wear any protective material under their swimsuits
Due to the information in number 5, this is a frightening conclusion.
7. The speedo is not as uncomfortable as it looks
Also known as the swim brief, the budgie smuggler or the racing brief, the speedo is as tight-fitting as it gets, but the common consensus among players is that it is pretty comfortable.
8. Some players occasionally wear two speedos
This is to prevent possible public exposure. It is not unheard of for a speedo to be ripped off under the water, so a player can never be too careful.
9. The goalies have it tough
The goaltender position is widely considered the toughest position in the sport. They must use only their legs and core to jump out of the water while maintaining a keen awareness of where the ball is at all times to make the blocks.
10. California Baptist University men’s water polo does not shy away from competition
The Lancers have stared down national powers year after year and continue to hold their own. They are a mainstay in the Collegiate Water Polo Association Top-20. The team is currently ranked No. 17 in the association.
This may not be everything that there is to know about water polo, but it is a good start. The next step is to watch a game.
CBU’s next home competition is Sept. 28th as a part of the Lancer Invite.