A welcome to water polo

Water polo is commonly cited as ‘the best sport to watch at Lancaster’. This week SCAN interviewed Susannah Yielding, Lancaster Water Polo’s Women’s Team Captain, and newly elected President for next year to gain a better understanding of the sport that has gripped spectators.

453
Courtesy of LUSWP

For Susannah, it is the atmosphere, physicality and intensity of the sport that makes it entertaining to watch. Just watching the sport tires you out; there is non-stop movement. The format of water polo is similar to many other sports, the aim is to get the ball in the back of the opposition’s net. Each team is made up of 7 players, with all of them, except the goalkeeper, constantly swimming up and down the pool, switching between attack and defence.

The game is structured around a 30 second stopclock, if you don’t score in 30 seconds then possession goes to the opposition. It is this rule that amplifies the intensity and pace of the game. This intensity fuels the competitive, and at times, aggressive nature of the sport. ‘It’s a high contact, physical game’ comments Susannah, ‘most of the contact happens underwater so it’s difficult for the referee to see it’. Kicking and the grabbing of costumes are common ways in which the physicality of the sport manifests, with time-outs for fouls being common in water polo matches.

Lancaster University’s Women’s water polo team is having an amazing season. They have already won the league, losing only one match all season, gained promotion and have sealed a position in a semi-final cup game. Susannah is glad to see that the hard work this season has paid off – there has been change in the training schedule, with new fitness sessions and drills being brought in. Looking at the amount of hours dedicated to water polo training each week, it shows the commitment players have to the sport, ‘We train 5 times a week, most sessions are in the water but we do have one land training session a week to improve general fitness’. For many members, training doesn’t stop there as they also swim for the university so attend training for that as well.

All of this hard work is building up to Roses, which is viewed by the club as their biggest competition of the year. Commenting on last year’s performance, where the men’s team won but the women’s team unfortunately missed out, you can see the determination get a full house this time around. This determination is embodied in the teams coming back to Lancaster to train 2 weeks before term starts, as well as implementing an alcohol ban so that everyone is in top form. ‘We really want to win this year’ and looking at their season so far, they are in a promising position!

But it’s not all work and no play being part of the Water polo team. In fact, the water polo team can be seen to epitomise the phrase ‘work hard, play hard’. ‘It’s a lot of fun being on the Water polo team and our socials are full-on’. Within the club, there is a tradition that you have to wear your water polo kit on socials, with the men having to venture out in speedos. Incorporating this tradition into themes can be a challenge, although their upcoming, ‘Learn to Swim’ social fully embraces it. Rubber rings, arm bands and swimming goggles are expected to be out in full force, so keep an eye out in Sugar on a Wednesday!