Charles River YMCA Starts New Water Polo Program
Until the U.S. women’s water polo team brought home the first-ever gold medal from the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, most New Englanders were unfamiliar with the team water sport. Water polo, similar to land-based handball, was first introduced in the Olympic Games in 1900 and is now popular in many countries around the world, notably Europe, the United States, Canada, and Australia.
In the United States, water polo has a stronger base in the coastal states, and only a few clubs exist nearby in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Maryland, to name a few. Two sisters, known as The Powers sisters of Weymouth, are looking to change that with a new water polo program at the Charles River YMCA of Greater Boston in Needham, which already has a wait list of eager swimmers ready to dive into the sport. The program kicked this past Sunday.
Kristen Powers, 25, the head swim coach and aquatics director at the Charles River Y, grew up around water and spent most of her family vacations in pools, lakes, and beachside. It’s because of this that her parents made sure early on that Kristen and her sister, Meghan, 23, were taught water safety and were groomed to be strong swimmers at a young age.
The Massachusetts family moved to California and the teenage girls first learned about water polo through their middle school. Their strength and endurance in the water coupled with speed was the perfect combination for the sport. The Powers duo went on to receive Division One scholarships to play team water polo in college: Kristen played for Marist and Meghan played for the University of Maryland.
Upon graduation, Kristen returned to the Northeast and her passion for water polo persisted. After holding trial water polo clinics over the summer and with the excitement of the gold medal win for the US team, the two decided to launch the program at the Charles River YMCA and interest for the sport spread through the Y’s existing swim teams.
“We are thrilled with the response we’ve received so far about the new water polo program and we hope to bring it to all of the YMCA’s statewide,” said Kristen Powers. “Water polo is for advanced and team level swimmers that are looking to be challenged in a new way. The sport teaches teamwork, confidence and also helps players become better advocates for themselves.”
Youth groups, ages seven to 13, will meet on Sundays to learn the basics of passing, shooting, and skill work with the ball. A scrimmage will also take place at the end of each practice. Water polo requires skills including treading water, wrestling, and the ability to do the front crawl and back strokes. Water polo differs from the usual swimming style to allow the players to quickly switch positions and catch and pass the ball to score. The playing team consists of six field players and one goalkeeper. The winner of the game is the team that scores the most goals.
For questions, more information or to learn how to enroll your child in water polo at the Charles River YMCA, visit ymcaboston.org/charlesriver or contact Kristen Powers at KPowers@ymcaboston.org or call, 781-449-6646.