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Inside the head; basketball+hockey+swimming=water polo

September 24, 2010

 What do Michael Phelps, Lebron James, and Jonathan Toews all have in common? They are all at the top of their sports, but what else? Chances are they would probably be very good water polo players.

Senior captain Tom Pederson explains, “A lot of people don’t know about water polo but it is a mix between hockey, swimming and basketball with the occasional fight.”

Water polo has quarters that are 7 minutes long and if it is tied there will be two separate three minute halves, and if it is still tied after that then it goes sudden death. The possession is determined at the beginning of each quarter by a drop. Each team has their fastest swimmer try to get the ball for the first possession, which is similar to a hockey face-off.

After the drop the rest of the game is a cross between basketball and hockey but in water. Pederson said “It is like basketball because you go on offense and try to score within the 35 second shot clock and then get back on to defense to prevent any fast breaks.”

And although hitting other people is illegal in water polo many times it cannot be enforced. “It’s hard because refs can’t see underwater so stuff won’t get called but when people come out you will see scratch marks and other bruises all over their bodies”

The hardest part of water polo, though, is not the fighting for Pederson. “When people first start off playing, treading water seems to always give people problems, but after enough time you get used to it. The hardest part is when we play 4 games in a weekend and you have back to back games; it’s hard to transition with only an hour’s rest.

The pool becomes a home away from home for Pederson when he is in season. “For water polo about 12 hours a week, for swimming it is about 15 hours a week and when they overlap it can be up to 24 hours a week”

To prepare on game day, Pederson has a set routine. “I listen to music before the game and visualize certain scenarios and how I should react to them but the trick is to not over think during the game or it will throw you off.”

Like any player in any sport scoring is always fun but Pederson has more important things on his mind. “My favorite play is anything that helps the team out, because if the team is happy everyone is happy.” Pederson added, “Every game is different, the emotions you can feel in one game can carry over or dwindle out depending on the energy of the team.”

Pederson never lets personal mistakes make him upset, and in fact only one thing makes him upset. “When we don’t play as one unit it really makes me upset because it is such a team sport.”

There is no special criteria that makes someone good at water polo but Pederson says there are a few things that you will need. “Being able to swim well and have strong legs will definitely help you when you are trying to score or fighting off a defender.”

BY JACK DONNELLY
Co-Sports Editor

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