What do you call a melee fight between big wave surfers, NFL stars, professional swimmers and veterinarians of the armed forces vying for control of a foam toy on the bottom of a pool? Underwater torpedo.
Prime Hall is at the end, holding an elongated child's toy, while two professional footballers are gripping his ankles and an MMA fighter is locking his waist with one body. Hall shakes them off, turns them over and starts the toy through the small gate at the bottom of the pool – all with one breath. Hall, a former Marine Corps officer, is the founder of the Underwater Torpedo League, the professional of a sport similar to submerged rugby (see rules below). "It can look like an all-rounder," says Hall. "But it's controlled chaos."
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Underwater torpedo requires stamina, endurance and calm – which is why it is becoming a preferred method for professional athletes to improve their fitness. Here's how to get into the action.
Training in the water
The Underwater Torpedo League – currently eight teams – is based on the west coast, but ad hoc games appear in the United States. Newcomers need a high level of basic fitness, including sport-specific preparation. But this sophisticated pool routine, developed by Hall, is effective for anyone looking to improve their fitness. Try it out once a week. If you are not a strong swimmer, do it under the watchful eye of a lifeguard.
Build up lung capacity: Freestyle breathing ladder
Perform two of the following laps with a 30 second pause between laps: 100m freestyle swimming, every 2 strokes on the first 25 meters, 4 strokes on the second 25 meters, 6 strokes on the third 25 meters and 8 strokes for the last 25 meters. Focus on efficiency and use a relaxed and methodical beating frequency all the time. As you become stronger and more comfortable, add more laps, up to 5 at a time.
A killer strength workout – in the pool
For explosive power: Burpee Bottom Out
Stand on the edge of the deep end of the pool. Step into the water with the body forming a straight line to sink to the bottom of the pool. Land in a crouch and touch your hands down. Push hard through your feet to get to the surface as quickly as possible. Climb out of the pool and repeat 9 repetitions. As you get stronger, add repetitions until you reach 20.
Strengthen your upper body: gutters
Jump into the deep end, then paddle to the side and reach for the edge of the pool. Hold on, take a deep breath, and go under water. Lock your arms so that your body is parallel to the pool wall. With a quick movement, pull your chin up to the edge and lift your upper body out of the water as if you were coming out of the pool – hands on the pool deck, arms outstretched, shoulders over hands, belly touching the edge of the pool. 1 Carefully lower the repetition into the water. Repeat a total of up to 30 repetitions or until you are tired.
Improve VO2 max
Drop a heavy barbell (30 to 50 pounds) into the deep end of the pool. Take a deep breath, inhale through your mouth, and then continue through your nose to open your diaphragm and fill your entire chest. Step into the water with pointed toes and stretch your arms over your head to get to the bottom of the pool and grab the barbell. Lean forward and walk along the pool floor as long as possible (as shown). Let the air out gradually to extend the time under water and drop the barbell and surface if necessary. Let rest for up to 5 minutes and repeat. Start with 2 repetitions and build up to 4 repetitions. On the last repetition, move the barbell to the flat end to remove it from the pool.
Laird Hamilton's pool workout: strength training in the water
Rules in the pool
Two 11-person teams play in a 14-foot pool. Five players per team are allowed in the pool. When the whistle sounds, both teams vie for the torpedo that sank in the middle of the pool. The goal is to score through a small goal (approx. 18 x 24 inches) and prevent the opposing team from doing just that. The appearance when holding the torpedo is punished. Therefore, players have to go to a teammate before rising to the surface to take a breath. Maneuvers such as casters, front and back flips as well as pushing off the pool walls help the players to avoid defenders and to advance the torpedo. Defensive players can attack, pull and fight to free the torpedo. However, kicking, hitting, choking and gripping goggles or swimsuits is illegal. Substitute players stand on the edge of the pool and are ready to type for gassed teammates. There is no specific goalkeeper. The first team to score five goals in one game wins. Games are the best of three games.
Underwater torpedo by numbers:
- Average playing time: 10 minutes
- Average time under water per game: 25 seconds
- The number of games that add up to one game: 3
- The time players have to regroup between games: 5 minutes
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