Image source: Pinkperfume
I often used to joke about taking up underwater knitting as a profession or a hobby whenever somebody asked me what I wanted to do with my life.
Last night, I was gobsmacked when somebody invited me to play underwater hockey.
"They do that?!"
Karen - a girl I had met on the same day at work - replied yes, in fact they do, and said that I should come along that night.
"We meet at 6pm... at the aquatic centre."
I drove home with full intentions of skipping that night but going to check it out the week after - because really, 6pm was half an hour away, I didn't know where my bathers were (actually yes I did, I just felt it had been way too long since I'd worn them and felt comfortable!), and I had only just met this girl and I was feeling shy.
But Mum and my stepdad totally talked me into it, bathers and all. Mum even volunteered to drive me to make it all less daunting.
We walked into the massive olympic pool arena, breathing in the chlorine and cautiously looking around. I spotted Karen, and ran up to tap her on the shoulder.
"You came!", she exclaimed, obviously stoked.
Mum took her place on the benches, while a woman introduced herself to me as Jasmine. She explained the gear I would be needing, holding out a snorkel mask, flippers, a padded glove, and best of all - a cap with built in ear guards.
I put on the gear, very amused at how I must've looked, and slipped into the pool.
Yep. That's me. Looking like a boss.
It turned out our instructors actually used to play for the national team. Yeah I know, underwater hockey is actually that big.
One of them was also a school teacher, I found out, because I had told her, "I feel like a six-year-old kid at a sports event" while she was adjusting my mask for me.
"Oh, sorry! I'm just used to fussing over the school kids," she said.
"No that's okay," I laughed, "I started it - I was the one that brought my mum along to watch!"
And everyone laughed at me.I didn't care that I felt like the baby, it was fun sharing the experience with Mum afterwards.
She mostly saw me kicking about and coming up for air countless times with HUUUGE gasps.
The game is actually really intensive on your muscles and on your lungs. You play with mini sticks, and a heavy weighted puck which can be passed a metre or two, but you mostly just push it around when you're frantically swimming low to the ground. People swim over you and into you, with dangerously kicking legs all over the joint. If you're unfit, like me, you're going to be panting and dying within the first fifteen minutes, being forced to give up some chances at scoring because you just can't hang on underwater any more.
But if you're like me you just try your hardest, and get in a good few saves, as well as one VICTORIOUS GOAL at the end - woohoo!
Except Karen and I had pretty much both driven the puck in - she got confused and thought she was battling someone from the other team. I knew it was only her but didn't stop to let her get the goal by herself because hey, this was my first and only moment! Haha. Aren't we the ultimate example of team work?
Anyway, point of story - I am definitely not the kind of person that just jumps up and goes, "Yeah why not! I'll be there in 5!" in the face of completely new situations.
But that night, I found some sort of boldness, even if only forced into me. And I'm so super glad I did.
Do you have any fun water sports offered at your local aquatic centre? I definitely recommend checking it out! It only cost me $5 to play, and different people are allowed to come each week. It's all for fun, with the chance to meet people without the pressure to make up conversation with them right away.