The Edinburgh University Sub-Aqua Club has enjoyed a tremendous start to its year, building on last year’s success. The team held a 100 per cent record over other University Octopush (underwater hockey) teams from around Scotland and the UK, and were crowned British University National champions for 2011.
Four members of the university’s team – The Hippos - also represented Scotland in underwater hockey at the 2011 World Championships, which was held over the summer in Holland. On 4 and 5 November the same four represented Edinburgh in Sheffield at the Annual Nautilus Competition. As part of the underwater hockey national championships this brought together 5 leagues; with 36 teams from across the country, and 350 players in total.
With each game lasting thirty minutes in a 25 metre indoor swimming pool, 3 metres deep, underwater hockey demands extremely high levels of stamina and lung power. The game consists of two teams of 10 players each with six players and four substitutes. Typically, teams are played as three forwards and three defenders but formations can be altered with tactical play, and substitutions are rolling throughout the whole game.
Players are equipped with fins, masks and snorkels and a short stick. They must dive down, holding their breath, in order to manoeuvre into the opponent’s goal a puck that sits on the bottom of the pool (the goals are marked against the wall at either end). It is a sport played by many of the scuba diving members of Edinburgh University Sub Aqua club to keep active during the colder winter months when there is less scuba diving going on.
At the Annual Nautilus Competition, Alex Whittington (Edinburgh), Lewis Evans (Edinburgh), Jim Cook (Heriot-Watt) and Steven Bruce (Heriot-Watt) all put in excellent performances for the Edinburgh team, who won all their matches and ended up topping Division Two. The Edinburgh team shares a fierce rivalry with both Aberdeen and Glasgow, so the meeting with them in the competition was greatly anticipated.
The team claimed a decisive victory over Aberdeen with a score of 14-0 and a slightly closer but still dominant victory over Glasgow, 7-2. Still buzzing from their successes in Sheffield, the Hippos are looking forward to their next competition on Sunday 4 December, to be held in Glasgow. This event is especially geared toward newcomers and the Hippos plan to put together a team of their newer members to compete.
With a successful established order, new blood coming through and some healthy competition in Scotland, the future looks bright both for Edinburgh University Sub-Aqua Club and the sport of Octopush.