The ultimate water polo player is someone who spends half their time in the pool and the other half on a pitcher’s mound, slinging the ball past opposing batters.
But you don’t necessarily have to be either of those things, according to Scott Frederick, head coach of the Forsyth Tritons water polo club.
Just be coachable and make sure you’re comfortable in the water.
“The minority of our kids are yearround swimmers,” Frederick said. “You need to be comfortable in the water, but you don’t have to be a state qualifier for your high school team. We do have players who play other sports as well, like cross country runners and some kids who do other activities.”
The Tritons, which began in 2016, will host a free try-it clinic at noon June 27 at the Cumming Aquatic Center ahead of this fall’s season.
While water polo is a contact sport, it’s possible for players to remain socially distant during practices.
“It’s not like basketball or wrestling, where you’re always in someone’s face, always brushing up against people. There is some space involved,” Frederick said. “Practices during the first part of the season, we can isolate our kids and break them into smaller groups, be 6 feet apart and still have a very productive practice.
“Once we get closer to our games beginning in August and September, we’ll probably be in a place where we can get a little more contact, a little more one-on-one drills and physical interaction.”
Frederick started the team along with Whitney Foster four years ago. Back then, the Tritons had only 12 players.
The team has doubled since then, fielding teams in the Georgia High School Water Polo Association’s championship division, as well as a developmental team for those who are still learning the game.
“We started the team with 12 kids who didn’t even know how to play the game and could barely throw the ball,” Frederick said. “We taught them the terminology that we use and the basic skills that allow them to be successful at the developmental level, and then after the season or midseason, we can move them up to another level that they’re ready for.”
The team is made up of middle and high schoolers in Forsyth County and competes against other teams around the Atlanta area.
In fact, Forsyth reached the GHSWPA Division I state championship against Norcross in 2018, which was the Tritons’ first season in the league’s top division.
The Tritons comprised of both boys and girls players.
Frederick, who also coaches West Forsyth High School’s swim & dive teams, coaches the Tritons with assistant coach Reinaldo Morales.
“He comes from Colombia. He’s got a lot of experience coaching teams down there,” Frederick said. “He’s a terrific player and has great hands-on experience at a high level.”
Water polo is a team sport that features seven players on each team — six field players and one goalkeeper. Like soccer, the objective is to get the ball in the back of the opponents’ net, only players throw the ball rather than kick it.
“It’s a very physically demanding sport. When we’re resting, we’re actually treading water when we’re not moving.”
Because of the high intensity, players train to move in bursts on both offense and defense.
“It’s not like your typical swim practice where you’re in a lane with a couple other people and you go back and forth at the same pace — you may do sprints and work on strokes and that sort of thing,” Frederick said. “Water polo is about swimming from one spot to another spot and getting ready to move again. If you’re covering somebody playing defense, you’re marking a man, when they move you’ve got to move with them.”
“When you’re on offense you’re trying to get open for a shot — you make a lot of quick moves, a lot of drives and stops, and reverses. It’s not really the regular swimming type environment. Being a good swimmer really helps, but there are other aspects to the game that new players may take a while to pick up.”