Secret life

“It is like a shark tank”

Isle of Wight optometrist and underwater hockey enthusiast Rebecca Rushton on finding her element beneath the water’s surface

Rebecca in underwater hockey kit
Rebecca Rushton

I saw a notice for Octopush [underwater hockey] at my local pool and I thought ‘What the heck is that?’ I looked it up on the internet and I decided that it looked cool.

Our team plays once a week on a Sunday night. Considering the Isle of Wight is a small place, there are actually quite a few people who play. There are around 30 to 40 club members.

The youngest player in the juniors is around six and the oldest player is probably 75. There are all sorts of people who take part. There are people who have represented Great Britain playing underwater hockey and there are newcomers.

Underwater hockey has come up as a topic with my patients in the summer when I was wearing short sleeves. They would say, ‘Oh you’ve been in the wars. How did you do that?’

 

If you have never done it before it is a baptism of fire. It is like a shark tank, with so many people around this one little puck. For my first game, I hung around the surface watching what the others were doing and thinking ‘Oh my God, how am I ever going to get in there?’ I was amazed by how much activity there was and how fast it can be.

As time goes on, you get more confident and get better at breath-holding. You learn to just get in there and attack. It is supposed to be a limited contact sport but there is definitely always the possibility of injuries.

Rebecca on the beach
Rebecca Rushton

Monday morning I will have scratches, bruises and bumps. Everyone in the club is lovely but in the water it is each team for themselves. I have been given nosebleeds, I have had massive bruises and my head squashed against the side of the pool.

Underwater hockey has come up as a topic with my patients in the summer when I was wearing short sleeves. They would say, ‘Oh you’ve been in the wars. How did you do that?’

Physically, the most important thing in underwater hockey is how long you can hold your breath for. That is the hardest part for a beginner. When I am free-diving, I have held my breath for more than three and a half minutes.

I have always loved the water – being on the water, in the water or near the water. I liked the adrenaline and the speed of Octopush. As my first team sport, I had never really had that feeling before of cooperating with lots of people. It is hard to describe. There is a rush. Every week I get out of the water at the end and I am so happy.

  • As told to Selina Powell.

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