32nd challenge completed – Waterpolo

Having ran for 4 days consecutively between Saturday and Tuesday, cycled the London Velodrome on Wednesday, it was time for a bit of relaxation with the West London Penguin Water Polo Club. If only the last part of that statement was true, yesterday was anything but relaxing!

Having contacted 3 or 4 local waterpolo clubs, I was really struggling to find a club that was willing to let me come along to one of their sessions. That was until the West London Penguin Water Polo Club responded to a post of mine on their Facebook site. So this Thursday I was invited to go along and train with them. 8 – 10pm sounded like a relatively long time for a training session, but I assumed that there would be a few breaks, time to discuss tactics and technique so we’d probably only be active for about hour. I was very wrong!

After meeting a few of the team, we started our warm up session – Butterfly arms with breaststroke legs. Anyone that’s watched me swim can imagine what a shocking ‘Eric the eel’ type sight this must have been for the other swimmers. This was followed by various adaptations on traditional swimming strokes, totalling around 20 lengths in total. The final part of the swimming warm up was a whopping 6×6 frontcrawl widths, alternating between face up and face down – this was done twice, so 72 widths and 20 lengths just to get the heart rate up. It safe to say that I probably only managed half of these and was in awe of the speed and power of everyone else.

I just about survived the warm up, and we moved on practicing drills. These involved various passing and swimming exercises, which on their own were very manageable, but there were no breaks between each one and I was finding it increasing difficult to remain afloat and the odd minor cramping meant that I sought the sanctuary of the pool side on the odd occasion.

After about 90 minutes of pain and exhaustion (I was actually enjoying myself), it was time for some attack versus defence drills. This was seriously tough. Whilst everyone else was regularly involved in the play I was busy preventing myself from drowning, resulting in an inability to actually raise my arms above the water to catch the ball. Nevertheless, I didn’t let this affect me and I pulled on a blue swimming hat to take part in the concluding practice match. This was great fun, if not a little brutal. These guys were seriously tough.

So where is waterpolo going to rank in my Olympic experience to-date. Overall, I’ve found it really difficult to get involved, but West London Penguin have gone a long way to changing my initial impression of the sport. Everyone was very friendly and as far as respect level goes, these guys have got to be near the top. It was a tough day, but thoroughly enjoyable.

So where are the pictures – well the big downside to the evening came after the session. I’d asked one of the spectators to take a few pictures and there were some really good shots. Unfortunately and slightly scarily at the time, I had my phone snatched from me, outside the University by two people on a motorbike. It happened so quickly that I only realised what had happened after the event. At the time I was in shock, this soon turned to anger and now on reflection I’m just putting it down to one of those things that happens – just a shame I can’t get back those photos.

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