Society Spotlight: Water Polo Club
We caught up with Lawrence Thompson, President of Southampton University Water Polo Club, to find out more about the club and what they get up to – in and out of the pool!
How long has the Water Polo Club been running?
We can find evidence of the first Water Polo game being played at the university as early as 1936, but we know definitely in the last 20 years it has been going strong as a proper society.
How many members belong to the club?
This year, we have 70 members across two fully competitive teams: 40 girls and 35 guys.
How does Water Polo actually work?
A common misconception is that it’s a water based version of Polo. We’ve even had people ask us in the past how we manage to get horses into the pool!
We play as a seven side team and it’s similar to football in the sense that you have to score goals and the team that scores the most goals wins. Unlike football, goals are scored very regularly in Water Polo – you’d hope for a goal about every two minutes and at least fifteen goals between the two teams. It’s also different in that everyone defends and everyone attacks.
How long is the training process?
We’re happy for anyone to dive straight in and join the second team if they understand the basic rules and have the fitness. The warm up drill is a chance for everyone to mix in and it’s quite easy for people to move up as their ability improves. We don’t train separate squads as this can limit growth.
We also have a few fringe players who play for the second team but might get on the bench for the first team, so this helps with growing their experience.
Is there much swimming in Water Polo?
Yes but it’s a different type of fitness to swimming. You have to swim to one end of the pool, attack -which involves constant egg beating, or treading water – and swim back to the other end. So it’s more endurance based with swimming in between. As a goalkeeper, I don’t really have to do the swimming bit – that’s why I like it!
What is the best part about being a member of the Water Polo Club?
I think one of the best parts is that we’re genuinely a mixed club. As well as the Water Polo itself, the social side is completely mixed. I think that’s quite rare for a university club.
How many social events does the Water Polo Club run?
We aim for one social a week and we also go out for Christmas dinner as a club.
Our socials are a real mixture: we do drinking; non-drinking. We’ve done laser quest in the past; bowling and play zone. We’re also looking at a few others this year like bingo and the classic themed nights.
Why would you encourage students to join the Water Polo Club?
It’s always good to start a new sport at university. It’s one of the few times in life where you will get to try a new sport from scratch. We’re a great club for integrating into university life because you get both the sport and the social side. We have the two second teams to help people develop and progress so you’re not going to be thrown in at the deep end and you will have the opportunity to properly learn the sport.
Do you need any previous experience to join?
No experience at all. I myself had never played Water Polo before but, after just three or four weeks, I felt competent and you’re never judged for not having played before.
Do you need to own any equipment to join the club?
Just a pair of trunks or a swimming costume! Apart from that, we have all the hats and balls. Each year we’ll sell last year’s balls which are useful for people to learn handling. We also offer the chance to buy speedos but that’s really all you need!
How much does it cost to be a member?
The half year membership is £30 and it’s £55 for the full year. You’ll also need to be a member of Sports & Wellbeing to use the pool. Our membership includes all travel to away games, all the training sessions, all the buying of kit, entry fees – everything!
What events do you have coming up?
Every year just after Easter, we hold a fundraising event called Summer Sounds on the Redbrick outside the Concourse. We have a BBQ, set up a stage with Surge, have acts playing all day and do some drinks deals with Stag’s.
In terms of Water Polo, we still have quite a lot of fixtures left before we know if we’ve made it to any finals. Check out our website and view our calendar to see when we’re playing at home – anyone is free to come down and watch!
What is the best way for students to contact you?
Any fun facts?
We do the I Love Tour to Salou with the University every year but we also do our own Summer Tour. For the last one, we went to Exmouth camping for four days so we set up camp, played the local water polo team but we also went to the beach, went bowling and much more. It’s a great, affordable alternative tour for people to get involved in!
Photograph provided by Southampton University Photographic Society (SUPS)