Water You Waiting For? Check Out the Utah Women’s Water Polo Club!


Kiffer Creveling

The University of Utah women’s water polo team competes in the first CWPA tournament at the Kearns Aquatic Center in Salt Lake City, on Feb. 11, 2018. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Abbey Thomas, Assistant Sports Editor


Prior to spring break, the University of Utah women’s water polo participated in a two-day long tournament put on by the Rocky Mountain Division. Teams from Utah, Colorado and the Air Force Academy came together to play a series of 14 matches, with each team competing in four in total. The Utes, split into an A team and a B team, are ranked No. 20 nationally and tied for second in the division. The tournament offered a space for the Utes to earn some experience against visiting teams and to continue building their name as a club team.

Though the club has been a part of the U for many years, it has only been going strong again for the last couple of years. In a conversation with Utah Team A Head Coach Maxx Barraco, he gave us a glimpse into the progress the team has made since the pandemic.

“The club has been around a long time, but when COVID hit it kind of went amiss,” Barraco said. “But the leadership we have now stepped up and made it happen again. Now we’ve got support from the local businesses and now we get to travel and do things like this. Last year, we started from nothing, and this year after all our hard work, we have a shot at making nationals.”

Water polo is played in four six-minute quarters with six players plus one goalie. Competing teams attempt to score on the opposing team’s goal. Players cannot touch the floor of the pool or hang off the sides, which means strength and endurance are a key component in the sport. According to Barraco, the game is all about the players’ form.

“We do a little thing called conditioning — it’s another word for torture,” he said with a smirk. “A lot of it is etiquette and learning how the form works, so as soon as form falls together, it becomes easier physically. But we have a lot of fun and people want to come to practice because it’s a good sport.”

And with all that hard work comes intense competition. Given that quarters last a mere six minutes, athletes make an immense effort to nab every point they can before their time is up, all while swimming essentially nonstop. However, the energy in the water is undeniable and the girls do it all with a smile on their face.

“We are competitive,” Barraco said. “We are competitive with each other as well as with everybody else, and that’s a good thing. We challenge each other, and we especially challenge the girls. And they just reciprocate — they love it and they get better with every game we play.”

One of the toughest things a club team faces is often not being seen on the same level as an official NCAA-Division team. Individuals in the community are typically not as familiar with these smaller club teams, but Barraco, along with the B team’s assistant coach Elijah Moore, wants the community to see that club sports are just as exciting as any other sport.

“Show up! Come play with us!” Moore said. “Honestly any type of support, whether you’re interested in playing or just coming to watch, it’s a really fun sport to watch and we need people to help create that community. It’s a lot of good times.”

With February’s tournament behind them, the University of Utah Water Polo Club has their focus set on training for April’s championship tournament. Anyone who is interested in playing water polo or watching the team can visit the team’s Instagram, @utahwaterpolo.


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