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Subaqueous Sporting with Octopush


You ever watch as a tank full of lobster in a seafood restaurant finally begins to realize they’re trapped in a tank—mercilessly uprooted from their natural habitat and about to be served piping hot—and begin to crawl over one another in the vain hope of escape? That’s kind of what Octopush looks like, where a seemingly nonsensical swarm of limbs frantically dart around underwater in clusters, each body aiming towards a singular puck on the floor of a swimming pool.

Octopush, known in less creative circles as “Underwater Hockey,” was created in 1954 Great Britain as a way to keep scuba divers fit and entertained in the frigid winter months. Sporting basically the same gear you use to go on a leisurely summer snorkel with, each player wields a tiny wee stick called a “pusher.” Gloves are worn to protect hands from the pool bottom, as well as any potential damage that the three-pound leaden puck might incur.

Two teams of six start at opposite ends of the pool, with the aforementioned hefty puck in the center. Scrambling as gracefully as you can, the aim is—as it is in all sports that we’ve come across—to score. While all this subaqueous sloshing might look ridiculous, the sport is quite difficult. Water presents more than a few obstacles, including not being able to hear your teammates, exaggerating the tax of physical movement, and, perhaps most critically, requiring a healthy lung capacity.

While Octopush practioners seem to be overzealously enthused with their underappreciated sport, it’s hard to get as riled up about it unless you’re in the water with them. Being a spectator at Octopush, well, is sort of anticlimactic. All you really see is a frothing mess of fins at the surface of the pool, and little else. While we might not be having any Octopush tailgating parties anytime soon, we’re supportive of anything that keeps humans of all ages moving. The oldest competitor ever was 76 years old.

Water comes with its benefits.  


Photo courtesy of Oxford University Sport.