Water polo players will compete fiercely

The Nanaimo White Rapids host the B.C. Summer Swimming Association championships this week at the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre.

Nanaimo White Rapids water polo player Josh Todd takes a shot on net during team practice last Wednesday at Bowen Park’s Kin Pool. B.C. Summer Swimming Association water polo provincials got underway Monday at the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre.

Nanaimo White Rapids water polo player Josh Todd takes a shot on net during team practice last Wednesday at Bowen Park’s Kin Pool. B.C. Summer Swimming Association water polo provincials got underway Monday at the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre.

Some sports fans might have the wrong impression of water polo, says the White Rapids team captain.They might think the players are passing the ball around and shooting lackadaisically.

“It’s not even close to that…” said Jackson James. “It’s very, very tough. Water polo’s very underrated.”

Swim clubs from across the province have all sent their best under-18 teams to Vancouver Island this week for the B.C. Summer Swimming Association championships at the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre.

Gareth Saunders, who coaches the team along with Brad Cioban, Philip Bourgeois and Ian Mattock, said water polo is sort of a cross between soccer and basketball.

Water polo is played seven-a-side, and three of the seven players in the pool must be females. Games consist of four eight-minute quarters. The goals are shaped like smaller soccer nets but the strategy is more like basketball. Teams tend to try to get the ball inside to the ‘hole’ player, sort of like a centre in basketball, who will then look for a shot on goal or try to distribute the ball to an open teammate.

“It’s very tough in there,” said James, of playing the hole position. “You’ve just got to have a lot of tolerance in there and make sure not to overreact [to rough play]. You just play the game.”

The White Rapids will try to play a fast-breaking style this week at provincials, hoping their speed can help them compete with some bigger teams.

The Rapids’ water polo program was revived this year mostly for the purpose of competing at provincials.

“We haven’t got a lot of game experience, but we have lots of good swimmers which transfers over well to water polo,” Saunders said.

James said he’s interested to see how the team fares.

“We’d like to compete and maybe win a couple games and see what we can do.”

SWIM SHORTS … The B.C. Summer Swimming Association provincials starts Monday (Aug. 13) with water polo, which continues until Wednesday morning. The diving starts Tuesday at 8 p.m. and ends Thursday morning. Swimming races go all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday. All BCSSA provincial competition is at the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre … To read last week’s article on the White Rapids, please click here.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

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