Ever since the appearance of COVID-19, every sports team has had to make sacrifices in order to practice and play games. Water polo is no exception.
Water polo is an interesting case when it comes to social-distancing measures, as the team practices in a confined space. Players cannot wear masks in the pool, and water polo is a contact sport. Due to the conflicting natures of water polo and COVID-19 safety precautions, many aspects of the sport have been modified to keep the players and coaches safe.
To start off, coaches have shortened practices to two hours in length, a far cry from the three-hour practices polo had last year. Due to the shortened practices, the intensity has also increased, with everyone putting in extra effort to make up for the loss of time.
Morning swims have also taken a hit. Last year, there was an average of two morning swims a week, starting at 6:15 and ending at 7:30 a.m., but due to the pandemic, morning swims have been completely eliminated.
Weekend practices recently resumed on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to noon.
Games have also taken a heavy blow. Last fall, the water polo team played 28 games. The games occurred in several tournaments such as Beast Of The East, Easterns, and the Inter-Ac season.
This year, the plan is to compete in Inter-Ac games only, meaning that the water polo team will only play in six games. Even these six games are not set in stone. The game schedule is constantly changing, with games frequently jumping around the calendar. Fifth Form team leader Bram Schork spoke about his opinion on COVID-19’s effect on water polo.
“The pandemic has forced the team to really focus on playing for each other.”Bram Schork ’22
“The pandemic has forced the team to really focus on playing for each other. Since there is essentially no season for the seniors, they are playing purely because they enjoy the sport and spend time with their brothers,” Schork said. “We’ve got a great team where everyone is there for the guy standing next to him. We support each other and do our best to help our teammates improve for the upcoming season.”
Head Coach Kevin Van Such said, “In August we were informed the season was canceled. It was disappointing, but things turned around and now we’re on the doorstep of our season-opening game. There are certainly challenges with limits to practice and preparation, so just focus on making the most of the time we have. It may be an abbreviated season, but we’re excited to have competition.”
With competition in sight, the coaching staff began to notice a different mood amongst the team.
“The guys are fired up,” Coach Van Such said. “We’re coming off a historic season last year, and the team is motivated to build on success. Our goal is to win. One game at a time. After winning the league the past two years, we definitely have a target on our back… They’re hungry to continue the success we’ve had in the league.”
One of the reasons for the continued success of the program is due to the well-rounded roster year after year.
“We have strong leadership and an experienced core.”Head Coach Kevin Van Such
“We have strong leadership and an experienced core. Our strength the past few years has been our depth, and we’re excited to see which guys step up and contribute this year,” Coach Van Such said.