We present to you: Underwater Hockey! Yes, it exists. Yes, it is great. Yes, we will tell you more.
So, what is Underwater Hockey (UWH) anyway?!
Underwater hockey, also known as Octopush, was invented in 1954 by British diver Alan Blake. Blake was inspired to create the sport because cold winters did not allow his sea diving club to continue their open-water diving, and swimming laps just didn't have the same appeal to him.
"The whole club could disintegrate if the members were only able to plod up and down a swimming pool for six months,” Blake wrote in his self-published memoirs. "I had to put something together to keep the branch up to strength for next summer." Not only did the club stay alive, but it went on to become one of the most successful in Britain!
How It Works
The Duration: 33 minutes in total, with two 15 minute halves. There is one 3 minute break.
The Rules: The game begins with the puck in the centre of the pool. After a buzzer sounds, players immediately dive to the bottom of the pool to begin. Each team has 10 players, six of whom are in the pool at any time. These players have specific positions, just like in most team sports, with forward offensive players and back defensive players using their sticks to maneuver the puck into their opponent’s goal. Fun fact: The game originally involved teams of eight players (hence “octo-”), and a 12 inch stick called a pusher (hence “push”).
The Equipment: Players need a diving mask, snorkel, large fins, and thick gloves to protect their hands from pool-bottom abrasion and puck impact. The puck, or squid, is made of lead and coated with plastic taking it to 3 pounds — heavy enough to be properly used underwater.
At the club or training level, spectating can be complicated. Of course, this is not especially surprising given the underwater nature of an underwater sport! Fans may be forced to sport a mask, a snorkel, and fins to enter the pool for a live view. (Let’s be honest, that sounds like the best spectating there could be!) High level tournaments such as World Championships, however, often have incredible live footage on large screens, and are sometimes webcast.
Of course, there are still some risks as there are in every game. Although it is a limited-contact sport, you may still get kicked or catch the puck with your mouth, so be sure to use a mouth guard to avoid the famous ‘Hockey Smile’. In the end, underwater hockey causes very few injuries, especially due to the low impact benefits of water aerobic activities.
Not limited by shape, size, or age, the sport has spread across six continents and is quickly spreading throughout some high schools and universities in the United States.
Fast moving and water-based, underwater hockey is ideal for anyone looking to keep fit, increase their lung capacity, or just ‘break the ice’ and meet some new people! Would you do it?! Tweet us @ZoneSwimwear and sound off in the comments below!