Legs thrash in the water. Arms become tired from overuse. Lungs struggle for each breath, sending aches from the stomach through the chest and into the throat.
The pain gets worse as the head begins to slowly slip under the water; then the arms click, lungs breathe deep and legs push up, sending the player out of the water and into air. The pass is made and so is the shot — Ram’s goal.
This is one of many exciting scenes that can be witnessed while watching one of the most electrifying club sports in which CSU participates: water polo.
Water polo consists of seven players on each team, six in the field and one in the goal. The objective is simple: score more goals than the other team. An objective that sounds easier than it is.
“It’s the most physically demanding sport,” said team captain and goalie Steve McVicker. “We’re out there wrestling people for the ball and swimming great distances.”
Great distances indeed. According to McVicker, each player swims one and a half to two miles each game. And not leisurely slow swimming — these guys sprint. When they’re not sprinting to retrieve, steal or block the ball, they’re treading water because, in water polo, you can’t touch the bottom.
In recent years the team has been known more for their abilities on defense, but their reputation has quickly turned to being an offensive powerhouse. Of the 23 players on the team, 13 have scored a goal so far this season.
And that pressure on opposing goalies has been reflected in the team’s ranking. Beginning 10th out of 11 a few years ago, the Rams have moved their way into third.
Aside from their excellent commitment to keeping in shape and shifting their focus more to the offensive side of the game, they have also added some new personnel to aid in the achieving of their objectives.
The Rams have recently added two international players to the squad, one from Hungary and another who hails from the Puerto Rican national team. Each new player adds a different element of competition and skill to the pool.
However, no team is without its problems. The only weakness on the team seems to be the communication the team lacks when they get into the pool fired up and ready to play. But this week will be dedicated to working hard on communication between players and keeping focuses at their final aim, winning the division tournament.
Using their physical toughness and endurance, the men’s water polo team has put themselves into a position to win the division, and that’s the desired result after this weekend’s tournament.
“It’s a very real expectation,” said head coach David Grovdahl. “There’s a couple of really good teams in our division, but we are fully capable of taking the division and going to the national tournament.”
The Rams will try to achieve their goal this Saturday as they play in their final tournament. The tournament will be held at the Epic Center off Prospect road. They will be hosting CU-Boulder in two games on Saturday, with one against the B team at 4 p.m. followed by a game against the No. 2 ranked A team at 7 p.m.
“We’re going to kill the CU-B team,” said team captain Andrew Isaacson. “If you want to see CU just get their asses kicked then that will be a good game to watch.”
The Rams will be facing some stiff competition this weekend and will rely on all their strengths and overcome what little weakness they have, but could always use the support of new fans.
“If you have never seen it before, you don’t know what you’re missing,” said coach Grovdahl. “It’s speed, it’s strength, it’s skill. It’s the quintessential sport.”
Sports writer Keith Robertson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.