Underwater Hockey doesn’t involve ice or a traditional hockey stick, but it does involve high speed play and holding your breath.
While several sources are calling underwater hockey the newest sports craze, it has actually been around for a decades and it already has a large international following.
The sport still draws chuckles in the United States where Swordfish Underwater Hockey Club member Chris Docampo says:
“I think most people hear (about it) and think, ‘oh that’s not really a sport,’ and brush it off. Maybe that’s why it’s not heard of as much.”
While the sport draws laughs from some observers, it actually includes a tough regime of speed, agility, strength, and strategy.
Underwater hockey players wear traditional flippers while racing up and down opposite ends of a pool to capture a submerged puck.
Some players swim along the top of the pools water while others submerge immediately in an attempt to grab the waiting puck. While submerging may lead to a quicker grab of the puck, it also means a quickly lost of oxygen. Players must not only capture the puck; they must manage their oxygen levels.
Players wear snorkels so they can skim across the top of the pool while at the same time diving without a seconds notice.
Unlike the two-dimensional field of traditional hockey, this sport allows for attackers to surprise from underneath, from the side, and from above.
Because water turns heavy objects lighter, the underwater hockey puck is much heavier than a traditional NHL puck, weighing in at a full three pounds. That makes the underwater puck eight times heavier than a traditional puck yet it is controlled with a 12-inch hockey stick.
When the 12-inch stick is thrown in with the puck it is not simple to push along the waters surface. That means the sport is about agility, strength, and strategy.
Unlike football, hockey, basketball, and other sports, your teammates can’t hear you underwater. That means communication is at a minimum, despite the team sport nature of underwater hockey.
Despite the obvious lack of underwater communication, players need to rely on one another in order to move the puck from one end of the pool to the other.
While the sport has received praise from its fans, turning it mainstream isn’t easy. You can’t really gather tens of thousands of fans around a pool to watch the sport. That means smaller audiences for live events.
Underwater hockey is played around the world with enough support that later this month 19 countries will compete in the Underwater Hockey World Championship in Hungary.
What do you think of this strange but compelling underwater sport? Would you watch underwater hockey?