Underwater Hockey Gains Speed In U.S.

Sport is growing in schools around the country.

ByABC News
August 18, 2011, 1:09 PM

Aug. 18, 2011 -- Take a puck, a stick and a goal. Sounds like a typical game of hockey. But add a snorkel, a mask, fins and a pool, and you get hockey with an underwater twist.

Underwater hockey is a relatively unknown, one-of-a-kind sport that is gaining speed in the United States.

Twenty-eight years ago, Brigit Grimm attended a scuba diving class. Her instructor demonstrated a new game that involved moving a hockey puck around underwater.

"I thought, 'Does anyone actually play this game?" the former Cal Berkeley swimmer remembers. "But after one practice, I fell in love with it, and that was it."

Grimm, now U.S. Underwater Hockey National Teams director and member of the San Jose Club Puck team, says it mixes the competition of hockey, the team formation of basketball and the endurance of swimming.

"It is a three-dimensional sport. There's a lot of up and down and twisting movement. [You] have to take yourself out of the game just to breathe," Grimm explains.

A game consists of two 15-minute halves during which players race underwater to a puck at the bottom of the pool. Players work as a team, using small sticks to move the puck down the pool, ultimately scoring in the opponent's goal.

For most, the unfamiliar sports might sound slow, but that's not the case.

Grimm says, "It's a much faster moving sport that most would visualize, but having a 3½ half pound lead puck and a short stick, it's a much faster game. "

Players use snorkeling gear and fins to move quickly throughout the water. However, most can only stay underwater for 10 seconds.

"You think you have to hold your breath, but that's the last thing you want to do." Oren Levy, one of the newest players on the San Jose Club Puck team explains. "When the puck is moving, you want to find the best path, get it to a teammate, get air, and find the next opportunity to get back down. "

Levy joined the growing San Jose Club Puck Underwater Hockey team while recovery from knee surgery. He says he's not the best swimmer, but was looking for a way to stay in shape.