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Old 08.06.2009, 15:32
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Underwater Hockey starts in Switzerland!

Yes, you read that right: underwater...hockey.

Devised in Southsea, England in 1954 under the name of "Octopush", underwater hockey has now spread to more than fifty countries around the world, including - as of December 2008 - Switzerland.

The first World Championship was held in Canada in 1980, and the fourteen that have followed that have drawn representation from countries in all six major continents of the world.

I myself have played since May 1989, and have represented Great Britain eight times at various World and European Championships. I have been in Zürich for just over two years, and although my initial attempts to get the sport started here were fairly fruitless, due to all of the pools being fully booked, a chance meeting with an underwater rugby player from the Unterwasser Sport Zentrum (Zürich Underwater Sports Club) led to me being invited to form an underwater hockey group within USZ.

That group is now six months old and although we are expanding rapidly, we are always on the lookout for new members.

Underwater Hockey Switzerland has a website (www.uwh.ch) at which further information can be found (at the moment it's just in English, but German, French and Italian translations are in progress). However, just to answer a few of the likely questions:

Q: What kit do I need?
A: Mask, snorkel and fins (snorkelling gear, not SCUBA gear) plus a short wooden playing stick and a glove. The club has plenty of spare sticks donated from the club in Munich, a few spare gloves and a couple of extra pairs of fins, but if you're keen to play and don't have your own gear or anyone from whom to borrow, please contact me in advance: I'm sure we can get you kitted out.

Q: Do I need to be a good swimmer?
A: Not especially - you just need to be confident in and under the water. And even if you've never used a snorkel before, it's a skill that is quickly mastered, and once you've got the hang of that, the other skills quickly follow. But equally, it's a sport at which you never stop learning - you're always going to come up against someone with a range of skills that are different from your own. It's also low impact, great fun, and for fitness and general conditioning there's nothing better!

Q: How many players on a team?
A: Six in the water, plus four substitutes. Players can sub in and out at any time, while the game is in play and also during breaks in play. For tournaments, a team is permitted to have up to twelve players, from which the captain or coach will select ten players for each individual game.

Q: Do both men and women play?
A: Yes! It is very much a mixed sport, all the way from club level right up to world championship level, at which the divisions are labelled "Women" and "Open", so women can play in both the Women's divisions and in the Open divisions, with the categories being "Elite" (theoretically your country's twelve best players), "Masters" (M: over 35, F: over 32) and "Under 19s". Because it's a non-contact sport that revolves around teamwork coupled with individual skill and technique, rather than just brawn, it is one of the few physical sports in which men, women and juniors can compete on completely even terms. On several occasions I have been on all-men teams that have been beaten by all-women or junior teams that have just been more skilful and had better teamwork. Not even the best player in the world can stay down and hold their breath for ever...

Q: What are the age limits?
A: There's no upper age limit: several of the players at my home club in England have been playing since before I was born! Because the game involves pushing and flicking a plastic-coated lead puck that weighs approximately 1.3kg, very young players tend to find it too heavy to propel effectively, but all teenagers upwards should have no problem with it.

Q: Where and when do you play?
A: The Zürich club plays on Tuesdays at Hallenbad City in Zürich (by the "Sihlstrasse" tram stop on lines 2 & 9) and on Thursdays at Hallenbad Oerlikon (buses 63 & 94 to "Hallenbad Oerlikon" or 200m from the Messe/Hallenstadion stop on tram 11, away from the centre of Oerlikon). Both sessions are from 8pm to 9.45pm (20:00-21:45). 20:00-20:50 is warm-up, from 20:50 we get ready to play and 21:00-21:45 is skills training and play, so for your first time you should aim to be there between 20:30 and 20:45 so that we can explain a bit about how the game works and get you kitted out.
There is also a club starting up in Geneva - please contact Rebecca Rademeyer through the Underwater Hockey Switzerland website below for more information.

Q: How do I find out more?
A: Visit the website www.uwh.ch, send an email to the "info" email address listed on the site or post a question on here. Response is guaranteed.

I have also developed a range of posters and flyers, from size A3 to A6, to try to spread the word, so if anyone who is interested in giving it a try would be able to get a poster onto their company notice board or intranet, or into their local Coop, Migros, Gemeinschaftszentrum, dive shop, swimming pool, library or anywhere else where people gather, that I have not so far thought of, I'd very much appreciate it.

We also have two newsgroup mailing lists for underwater hockey: one Switzerland-wide and one just for Zürich. If you want to join either or both of the newsgroups, send me a private message with your email address and I'll invite you.

Any questions, please shout, and hopefully see you in the water!
Attached Thumbnails
underwater-hockey-starts-switzerland-uwh1-bw.jpg   underwater-hockey-starts-switzerland-uwh2-bw.jpg   underwater-hockey-starts-switzerland-uwh3-bw.jpg  

Last edited by martinreed; 16.06.2009 at 04:29.
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  #2  
Old 09.06.2009, 10:36
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Re: Underwater Hockey starts in Switzerland!

Coming from a country (Canada) that has frozen lakes for more than 4 months a year, I don't think this would make for a very fun sport there!!
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  #3  
Old 09.06.2009, 10:42
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Re: Underwater Hockey starts in Switzerland!

And before you know it someone's going to come up with underwater badminton..
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Old 09.06.2009, 10:47
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Re: Underwater Hockey starts in Switzerland!

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And before you know it someone's going to come up with underwater badminton..
I've played scubaball; something like volleyball, but a lot less volleying...
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Old 09.06.2009, 15:59
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Re: Underwater Hockey starts in Switzerland!

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Coming from a country (Canada) that has frozen lakes for more than 4 months a year, I don't think this would make for a very fun sport there!!
Ah, well, the trick is to play it in indoor swimming pools rather than in the lakes (the puck also flicks a lot better)! The Dutch and the Kiwis also play it in outdoor swimming pools in the middle of winter, wearing wetsuits...

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And before you know it someone's going to come up with underwater badminton..
Somebody probably already has...

But PC_Advisor and vwild1, it is already very well developed in both of your home countries and regions.

The Canadian Men's Elite were bronze medallists in 2000, the Canadian Women's Elite silver medallists three times between 2000 and 2006. The US Men's Masters were world champions in three successive World Championships between 2002 and 2006, and the US Women's Masters were world champions in 2004 and 2006. Probably 75% of the US team is drawn from the Club Puck club in San Jose, so both Canada and the State of California have very strong underwater hockey teams.

So widespread for something that nobody has ever heard of...

Last edited by martinreed; 09.06.2009 at 16:24.
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Old 09.06.2009, 16:01
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Re: Underwater Hockey starts in Switzerland!

Any relation with recently opened thread of "sport for Veternas"?
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  #7  
Old 09.06.2009, 16:07
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Re: Underwater Hockey starts in Switzerland!

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A
The Canadian Men's Elite were bronze medallists in 2000, the Canadian Women's Elite silver medallists three times between 2000 and 2006.
Stop it!!!

Well since I left in '99, many things are possible!!
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Old 09.06.2009, 20:00
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Re: Underwater Hockey starts in Switzerland!

hello all,
i have never heard of underwater hockey before but it sounds really interesting. i was wondering can any undecided come and watch a match and see what its like? Monica
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  #9  
Old 09.06.2009, 20:22
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Re: Underwater Hockey starts in Switzerland!

Hi Monica!

Yes, everyone is welcome, just come along!

As I put in the original note, we play at Hallenbad City on Tuesdays and at Hallenbad Oerlikon on Thursdays. Warm-up is from 8pm, preparation for play from 8.50 and play from 9pm, so for your first time you should aim to be there between 8.30 and 8.45, so that we can explain a bit about how the game works and get you kitted out with a stick and glove.

From the surface there's nothing to see, just a bunch of blurred shapes chasing each other around under the water and fins splashing on the surface - the view from the surface has often been compared to a shark feeding frenzy! - but it's when you put your head under the water that you see what it's actually all about and how it works.

The best way to experience it is to try it - some decide it's not for them and never return, others (such as me!) get hooked and are players for life - but by all means come along to either of our sessions and see it for yourself. Tonight, if you're close enough and feeling spontaneous!

Last edited by martinreed; 10.06.2009 at 10:53.
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Old 11.06.2009, 16:10
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Re: Underwater Hockey starts in Switzerland!

hello
thanks for the info. i was just wondering if you could elaborate on how much of an experienced swimmer someone would need to be? thanks monica
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Old 11.06.2009, 16:31
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Re: Underwater Hockey starts in Switzerland!

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hello
thanks for the info. i was just wondering if you could elaborate on how much of an experienced swimmer someone would need to be? thanks monica
Ability to hold your breath longer than 60 seconds...
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  #12  
Old 11.06.2009, 18:10
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Re: Underwater Hockey starts in Switzerland!

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Ability to hold your breath longer than 60 seconds...
Actually not so! It's all about picking the right moment to go down to receive the puck, trick/skill your way past your opponent and then pass the puck on to a teammate or put it in the goal.

Apparently some study was done at the 1997 British nationals by one of the students from the Plymouth university club as to how long each player of the winning team stayed under the water. I guessed at around 30 seconds, but apparently the answer was just seven seconds, which I suppose is about the length of time it takes to do what I described in the first paragraph.

On the other hand, in one of the knockout games of the 1998 World Championships in San Jose, California, I did see the Dutch captain keep possession by himself for a whole minute against three French forwards while he had two of his teammates serving one-minute time penalties in the sinbin (so it was four Dutch players against six). It looked like a piranha attack as they swarmed around him, but still he didn't give it up until his two teammates were back in the water, and even then only to another Dutch player.

The French still won the game, though...

Last edited by martinreed; 13.06.2009 at 04:15.
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Old 12.06.2009, 19:21
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Re: Underwater Hockey starts in Switzerland!

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hello
thanks for the info. i was just wondering if you could elaborate on how much of an experienced swimmer someone would need to be? thanks monica
Hi Monica,

You don't by any means need to be a champion swimmer, you just need to be able TO swim, and more importantly be comfortable in and under the water. One of our players only learned to swim a year ago, but he loves it. If you have used a snorkel before, then you will have a head start, because that is the first skill to be learned, but if not, it's pretty easy, and once you've mastered that you're away!

Because underwater hockey is unique and totally unlike any other sport, all of the skills are unique and that's what makes it so much fun, but equally you can't learn it all at once. Start off slowly, don't expect to learn it all on the first night (because almost all of it is going to be new to you), aim have fun and the rest will follow, and ever more easily with each time you play.

Come and give it a go!

Last edited by martinreed; 15.06.2009 at 01:28.
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Old 12.06.2009, 19:39
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Re: Underwater Hockey starts in Switzerland!

Fantastic!
I played a bit of octopush at university, and would be keen to take it up again, thanks for putting up the link to http://www.uwh.ch/.

Would next week be a good time for a newbie to come along?

Thanks
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Old 14.06.2009, 17:56
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Re: Underwater Hockey starts in Switzerland!

Hi blueygirl, I'm impressed - someone who knows its "proper" name!

So that means you're a Plymouth, Aberdeen, Portsmouth or Bangor girl. Or possibly even Imperial College...?

Yes, definitely next week is a good time for a newbie to come along, but because the group is so new, nobody really has spare kit as yet, so if you don't have your own mask, snorkel and fins, or can borrow them, please can you let me know which day(s) you're intending to come and what size fins you need (i.e. shoe size), and I'll see if I can borrow from some of the underwater rugby players.

Underwater rugby, now that's a whole new tangent for PC_Advisor to get his teeth into...
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Old 14.06.2009, 19:36
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Underwater rugby, now that's a whole new tangent for PC_Advisor to get his teeth into...
Well at least it is not American football!!! all that gear would definitely drown someone!
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Old 15.06.2009, 13:51
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Re: Underwater Hockey starts in Switzerland!

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Well at least it is not American football!!! all that gear would definitely drown someone!
Similar to the quip about water polo: "how do you avoid drowning the horses?"
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Old 12.05.2010, 22:51
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Re: Underwater Hockey starts in Switzerland!

Thought I might jump in and update this thread, rather than start my own ...

Well, the Underwater Hockey team is still playing on, but since they've closed Hallenbad City a coupla weeks back both the Tuesday & Thursday training nights are at Oerlikon ... which is not horrible, just a slightly longer trip for me.

Did I mention that I've been playing for a few months now? Well, I am a regular player now, and have even been to an international tournament (a 'friendly' in Strasbourg, at which I was ironically both the only player born outside Europe (if you include the UK as part of Europe, which I do in geographical terms) and the only player to represent Switzerland ... I got a warm welcome by the Munich Ladies Team, and helped them to a convincing defeat!).

It's great fun, although you have to be at least partially masochistic to join what Martin likes to call the "warm-up" run by the underwater rugby guys before the underwater hockey training ... an hour of swimming and diving with and without flippers up and down a 50m pool is a touch draining - my shoulders still ache after last night!
If the 'fitness training' is not for you (and it appears to not be for about half the hockey players, including Martin ...) just rock up about 20:50 to be ready for the hockey training session.

Seriously, if you have questions or are interested in playing, pm me ... it is great fun, you can play well with a beer gut, and there is almost always a group of players heading to a bar or something after training to imbibe 'medicinal' beverages to aid recovery ...
Also, if you're not keen on underwater hockey or underwater rugby, there is also a 'free swimming' group who also train with masks/snorkels/flippers to do shallow-water exploration. Same time, same place, a few different people.
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Old 13.05.2010, 14:18
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Re: Underwater Hockey starts in Switzerland!

Just a short note: the fitness training is good, and extremely valuable - part of the success of the Rugby team is this fitness training, and they've been national champions for most of the past 25 years. They're understanding if you have trouble 'keeping up', as I sometimes do, but the important thing is to be in there and moving!

So, for your first visit, rock up about 20:40 so you can be introduced to the equipment and some concepts ... but after that it's great to get into the water right on 20:00! Most of us (hockey players) do get into the warm-up, but some have jobs with late meetings that hold them up - part of the joy of working in companies that sprawl across time zones!
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Old 04.12.2017, 07:48
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Re: Underwater Hockey starts in Switzerland!

Hi all.

I am a newbie to the game and really like it. I would like to purchase some kit and also a puck, but all online shops seem to be out of stock. Where can I find these?

Thank you.
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