By: Jett Millican
Both boy’s and girl’s swim had spectacular seasons this year. Our boys stroked their way through an undefeated season all the way to a State Championship, and our girls placed second in the state after narrowly being defeated by Bartlesville.
So with all that hard work done, the members are taking some much needed rest and relaxation… sort of.
“Water polo” has become the activity of choice during sixth hour practices in the aquatic center. I have always heard the tales of the swim teams’ postseason water polo tradition, but I never knew exactly what they were doing and why. So I decided to find out for myself.
Water polo is a team sport, that to the untrained eye may resemble ‘soccer in the water’. There are 6 field players and one goalie per team. The objective of the game is to score more goals than the opposing team, a goal occurs when a field player throws the one rubber ball in play past the opposing goalie and into the opposing team’s goal.
The whistle blew sharply and echoed in the aquatic center as the referee threw the ball into the center of the pool. Both teams rushed for the ball and in a spray of water a player snagged it. The team whipped around the ball from player to player and moved quickly up the pool, until finally someone had enough room to launch the ball past the goalie and into the goal.
Field players may only use one hand to handle the ball, that includes while catching the ball! If that doesn’t sound hard enough, all of this is done is an “all deep pool” meaning that the players can’t touch the bottom of the pool, and are treading water constantly.
Water polo has been a Jenks swim tradition for many years, and after seeing the the game played I can see why.
This may be Diego Heano’s first year as the swim teams head coach, but he still tries to embrace the traditions that the recently retired head coach John Turner had in place during his 36 years at Jenks.
“It’s a really good sport to keep them in shape, to keep them in the water, to keep them exercising. I won’t recommend it for during the season because it’s really hard, it’s tough, and it can be very aggressive, and I don’t want them to get hurt before a meet, so we do it after the season is over,” says Heano. “It’s fun, sometimes swimming may not be as fun, and this gives them that break, but at the same time they’re still staying in shape.”
Coach Heano swears by giving his swimmers a break after the season is over, not just to rest, but to re-inspire them to begin training again.
“The good thing about the break is, there is a time when they are going to be hungry again. [They’ll say] ‘I feel like I’m getting slow, I feel like I’m not in shape anymore’, and by the fifth day or maybe a week they’re going to be feeling like, ‘I need to get back in the water, I feel like I’m out of shape, I need to get back’,so it’s like a hunger starting all over again,” says Heano. “It’s a good thing to have a break because they get to a point that they have to understand that ‘I have to get better’ and they’ll say that to themselves. My job gets easier when they say that, I don’t have to push and push anymore, they know the expectations.”
The fun of water polo will turn back into preseason work soon enough for our swimmers. Soon their focus will be on preparing for their next season and searching for their bid to state once again.
“It’s been a great year, it’s been fun. I can’t wait for the next one, now of course I also need a break, because its been really challenging, but I’ve learned a lot,” says Heano. Now I want the girls to win too, and they want to [as well] because the boys are having a lot of fun, and the girls I can see they are kind of sad they win, but they’re hungry, and that’s the whole point. I want them to continue training and to understand that if they continue training the way they did this last year, it’s going to happen to them too.”