Water polo may not be a sport that's on the tip of the tongue of people in Cochrane, but four local youth are enjoying the sport with the Seawolves Club in northwest Calgary.
On the weekend three of them won a total of four silver medals at the Alberta Open, hosted at the Respol Sport Centre in Calgary, Mar. 14-17.
Tegan Lester-Olivier won silver as a member of the Calgary Seawolves Blue team while her brother Travis Lester-Olivier and Caebri Smith stuck silver with the U12 Seawolves. Travis also played for the U14 boys Seawolves team that went on to win silver. Troy Lester-Olivier also plays for the U14 boys Seawolves team.
The Alberta Open draws teams from across Canada annually and this year several Alberta teams were joined by those from Saskatchewan and Ontario. Team Saskatchewan won the U12 girls event and the Edmonton's Thunder Birds won the U12 boys event.
All four of members of the Cochrane Piranahas summer swimming club and water polo is a perfect fit for those in summer swim clubs, explains Heidi Lester-Olivier, whose children have been involved with the Seawolves for four years.
"A lot of youth use it to keep fit and improve their swimmer because they have to do a lot of sprinting to get to the ball first. So a lot of the kids do summer swim club in the summer and then they go to water polo."
It's also affordable, fun to play and teaches valuable life skills, she says.
Each team has seven in the pool in the game, one in net and six out. They play four seven-minute quarters in 25m pools. The sport combines swimming speed, ball handling skills and team play. Games last about an hour and during a weekend tournament, teams can play four to five games.
Men's Water Polo was the first team sport at the Olympic Games in 1904. The women joined the Olympic family in 2000.
There are 14 water polo clubs in Alberta predominately in the major cities but also in smaller cities and towns like Medicine Hat, Innisfail and Strathmore.
The season is drawing to an end. The Provincials for U12 and U14 are being hosted in Edmonton on Apr. 13-14 and the U14 Western Finals are being hosted by Calgary in May.
For more information on water polo, visit http://albertawaterpolo.ca.