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  • How important are swim times for water polo? 

    June 27, 2022 2 min read 1 Comment

    If you’re a water polo player, you probably dread swim season as it’s nowhere near as fun. We often have water polo players ask how important is swimming to play water polo? And can they play in college if their swim times aren’t the best? 

    Swim times are actually really important to college coaches. Some of the first questions that are on college water polo applications are swim times. This helps coaches understand a segment of the athlete’s skills. It’s not a complete deal breaker if the athlete doesn’t have the required swim times but it’s a huge factor for the coach. The main reason why they are important is keeping up in swim sets. College water polo athletes swim A LOT of yards and if you are left behind on the sets, you aren’t going to be on the team for long. Plus college water polo games are much faster paced than high school, every lap up and down the pool is an all out sprint. 

    The swim times do vary between D1, D2, D3, and club teams and coaches do make exceptions for athletes that exhibit potential. But the bottom line is water polo athletes need to focus on swimming. Some age group water polo coaches even make it mandatory for their water polo players to be on the swim team, which might seem cruel but it really helps development in the long run. 

    What about goalies? Is it important to be on the swim team as well? It’s not uncommon for D-1 goalies to join in on some of the swim sets. Sprinting is a vital skill and college goalie swim sets are often 50s or 100s at high paced intervals. Breast stroke is a great stroke to specialize in as it builds leg strength. 

    1 Response

    Eric Benson
    Eric Benson

    December 29, 2023

    I think there are 3 speeds for swimmers as it relates to water polo:
    Stupid fast – you have a swim background – you’re winning the sprint, always a counter attack threat
    Average – you can hang with the pack, go when you need to, but you’re not getting any swim scholarship offers
    Liability – you are slow and a liability on defense. You better be an offensive juggernaut if you want to see meaningful minutes.

    The issue is the vast majority of kids fall into the ‘Average’ category, and their swim coaches twist their arms to skip 4 months of Spring polo for swimming because “it’ll be huge if you can drop 3 seconds off your 100 free time” when the reality is even if you drop the 3 seconds; you’re still just an ‘Average’ water polo swimmer.

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