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You’ve got to swim it to win it. No, water polo’s not a soggy kind of mint – it’s a team water sport that takes place in a swimming pool. Bearing similarities to the land-based game handball, the sport involves moving a textured ball across the pool and aiming at a designated goal. Think it sounds easy? Only if you have extremely superior multi-tasking abilities...
Water polo teams are made up of seven people – six field players and a goalkeeper. Players must pass the ball to one another whilst taking care to avoid their opponents, with the aim being to score as many goals as possible. The catch? Minimum water depth for water polo is 6 metres, so players are forced to swim or tread water at all times.
The goalkeeper is the only player who is allowed to touch the ball with both hands at the same time. All other players may pass the ball by throwing it to a teammate or swimming with it in front of them. Players are not allowed to push the ball under the water to keep it from their opponents.
In order to get stuck in to water polo you will need to be a proficient swimmer. You’ll also require the necessary strength and stamina required to tread water for extended periods of time – not as easy as it may at first seem.
As with any team sport that requires passing and intercepting, good awareness and reflexes are important if you’re going to be successful. Luckily, you don’t need much expensive equipment in order to join a team – swimwear, a cap and a mouth guard should suffice.
Water polo can be surprisingly aggressive, so if you’re not sure you can deal with plenty of pushing and shoving, this probably isn’t the game for you.
Men’s water polo was first introduced to the modern Olympic Games as long ago as 1900. We bet the Victorians looked very fetching in their swimming caps...
Suit grabbing fouls are apparently pretty common during water polo matches, causing players to wear tight-fitting suits with no straps that can be easily held.
There are a number of variations of water polo that you can try your hand at, from surf polo to canoe or kayak polo. We quite like the sound of sticking our oar in...