Beneath the Surface: An Inside Look on the Brutality of Water Polo


Emma Malysz

Senior and Varsity waterpolo player, Emma Malysz, takes a selfie of her black eye.

Kate Linehan, Reporter

When the water polo girls jump into the Pres pool, the calm, peaceful waters transform into a brutal battlefield. Spectators who watch the games only know half the story.

Over the summer, water polo players Monica Boss and Emma Malysz went to the Water Polo Junior Olympics, ready to play some great games. They came back with the gift of bruised ribs and black eyes.

“I got kicked twice by another player in the same spot,” said Boss, a senior who has been playing for four years. “The first time it just hurt, but when the second came I knew something was wrong.”

Malysz, also a senior, said of her black eye, “During the game I didn’t even realize it was that bad until one of my teammates yelled at my coach to take me out, then I felt the bump.”

Despite the seriousness of their injuries, both of these players were not experiencing anything unusual in the water polo world. Injuries like these happen all the time.

James M. Colville, who researched the competitiveness of water polo explains, “Players wear thick, double swimsuits, tied on very tightly, as protection from kicking and scratching, and against opponents holding and pulling on the suit. Consequently, there are a myriad of injuries that occur to the upper extremities, from the overuse syndrome of swimming to traumatic injuries resulting from wrestling.”

“The opposing team usually grabs your suit, kicks you, and pushes you around, especially when you are a small freshman,” attested Junior Camille Baguley, who plays on the varsity team. “When I first started playing I wasn’t prepared for learning how to swim when someone is pushing up against me, trying to steal the ball.”

 In order to protect the girls in the pool, there are nail checks before each game. “The nail checks are no joke. There are definitely girls out there who sharpen their nails and I would not like to be guarding someone during a game who has claws,” said Baguley.

Now the real question is: Do our Pres players get equally physical? When someone is grabbing or pushing you around in a game it is definitely difficult to control yourself. “If a person I am guarding gets annoying, I will retaliate against them. Sometimes I know I shouldn’t, but I still do,” admitted Boss.

 Baguley explains one of her many tactics, “I will accidentally hit them in the face when I am swimming.”

Despite the competitive opponents our Pres teams are facing, the hard work our players are putting in at practice is paying off at the games each week. Junior Varsity is dominating this season with 9 wins and 4 losses and Varsity has a record of 6 wins and 7 losses so far. Although the physical aspect of the game is important, our players are successful because they invest a lot of brain work into outsmarting their opponents rather than wrestling them.

“Despite the physical aspect of the sport,” water polo player Sangeet Brar said, “I don’t think I could live without the sport, no matter how many injuries I get.”