Take a deep breath start kicking
UNDERWATER HOCKEY: Do you love the water but find swimming laps is just a little boring?
You might discover Norville Pool on a Monday and Wednesday night may provide something just up your alley.
It is underwater hockey — a hybrid creation based around ice hockey, field hockey, scuba diving and water polo.
It may be relatively unknown to most, but the sport has been played at the elite level since 1980, with the Australian men and women claiming gold nine times in that period.
Bundaberg’s Brett Gamlin has been there from the beginning, representing Queensland in 1984.
He along with Debbie Slack (now Brett’s wife) and Kelly Geddes, all played for their state that year, and Geddes went on to represent Australia.
“We’ve had quite a few rep players come through our club over the 30 years, it’s always been around, just never really promoted,” he said.
The basic run down is six-on-six, equipped with fins, mask, snorkel and gloves with a wooden stick, hitting a weighted puck into goals at either end.
It can get a little rough when players jostle for possession, and requires great strength and endurance, as well as a ridiculous lung capacity.
“At the high levels it gets pretty full-on, but we make house rules here to accommodate new players and keep it social,” Gamlin said.
Newcomer to the sport Sam Burtt has embraced the game.
“It keeps up the fitness levels, it heaps of fun and there is plenty of skill to it,” he said.
“Breathing through such a narrow tube is tough, you learn to meditate your breathing almost, as well as look out for who’s got the puck and where your team mates are, it gets exciting.”
It was invented by diver Alan Blake in 1954, as something to pass the time, and Gamlin says it is mainly divers today that continue to be lured to the sport.
“We always have about 10 or so people come each night, and many of those are divers looking for an alternative when the weather is no good,” he said.
Just like its on-land counterpart, underwater hockey players are assigned positions and there are many differing systems and strategies that can be adopted.
Anyone interested in trying a new sport is encouraged to turn up on Monday or Wednesday at 6pm to Norville Pool.
New players are given fluoro orange sticks to distinguish them and maintain a social atmosphere.