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Locals ready to make a breathtaking splash

THREE Eastern Shore locals will take on the world this August when they travel to Great Britain to compete in the World Championships of one of the more unususal sports, underwater hockey.

Dan Gould, Connor Munnings and Ben Linton are keen to make a splash when they compete with the under 24 Australian men’s team at the Underwater Hockey Fifth World Age Group Championships in Sheffield.

They will compete against 10 other countries – Turkey, France, New Zealand, Great Britain, South Africa, Argentina, Canada, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands.

Underwater hockey is played with two teams of six, plus four subs, playing on the bottom of a pool in an approximately 25-metre-long court.

“You use a snorkel, mask and fins, and there’s a lead weight that sits on the bottom of the pool that you push around with your little stick,” Gould said.

“You swim around with the puck, pass it between your team, try to keep it off the opposition and swim it or flick it into a goal tray at each end.”

Gould previously competed in the 2015 World Championships with the under 19 Australian men’s team and came away from the competition feeling unsatisfied with the end result.

After having two years rest from the sport, Gould said he was looking for redemption.

“This time around I feel that everyone has put the time in and will give it their all in the competition and really know what they’re there for,” he said.

“We’ve put together a really good squad this year, and I’m feeling fit, strong and ready to go.”

Gould said there was a huge amount of dedication needed to prepare for a competition like this.

“We get upwards of four swim session in a week and that’s in addition to as many underwater hockey sessions we can get, as well as core and gym sessions – it’s pretty full on stuff,” he said.

Playing predominantly in the wing position, Gould started playing underwater hockey in the Tasmanian schools competition eight years ago.

“The people I’ve met through underwater hockey have really been my inspirations for the sport,” Gould said.

“You build a team comradery and it’s almost like you’re part of a family – we talk about everything together, we train together, we spend a great deal of time with each other at the pool, and it’s that family bond that keeps me with it.”

The Underwater Hockey Fifth World Age Group Championships in Sheffield will be played from 14 to 24 August.

For more information, visit www.sheffielduwh2019.co.uk or visit the ‘Sheffield 2019’ Facebook page.

Caption: Dan Gould, left, and Connor Munnings are ready to take it up to the world’s best at the Underwater Hockey World Championships in Sheffield. Absent, Ben Linton. Photo credit: Matt Iles.