Gut Rumbles

June 30, 2008

water polo

Originally PUBLISHED July 3, 2004

How long can you tread water? How long can you do it with some hairy brute shoving your head under the surface and kicking the shit out of you? Play water polo and you'll find out.

My college team was pretty good because we had Jim Weinzettle as our goalie. Jim was 6' 9" tall and an All-American swimmer at the University of South Carolina before he transferred back to Armstrong State College to finish his degree. Jim set all kinds of ACC records in the breastroke and the butterfly and qualified for the Olympic trials in 1972, where he ran into a guy named Mark Spitz. Jim was good, but he wasn't THAT good. He finished 11th in the trials in St. Louis and didn't make the Olympic team.

But he was one hell of a goalie. That fish-man could tread water with his belly-button showing and spread those long arms so that nobody could score against us. He was a formidable goalie.

I, on the other hand, played only to survive. I'm a good swimmer. I'm not in Jim Weinzettle's class, but I've passed every lifeguard test I ever took and I've never been afraid of water. But when you get into a game of water polo, swimming isn't everything. You're in 10' of water with people trying to KILL YOU!!! You grab a pass and some bastard on defense immediately tries to DROWN YOU! You try to swim with one hand on the ball and OTHER PEOPLE show up with elbows, knees and fists to KILL YOU!!! Pass the ball to a teammate and the sharks will kill you ANYWAY, then swim off to ravage whoever you passed the ball to.

That is one hostile sport. I loved it.

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