AWeb_j043413 LARGE contingent of Wonthaggi Underwater Hockey Club players are in intense training for the World Championships to be held in Eger, Hungary later this month. Among the group is former Buffalo girl Camille White in the Women’s team with Wonthaggi’s Amy Barry-Macaulay; Wonthaggi’s Callum Wishart in the Men’s Under 23 team; Korumburra’s Mungo Trumble in the Men’s Under 19s; Wonthaggi’s Rees Quilford in the Elite Men’s team; and Wonthaggi’s Jackie Connell in the Under 19s Women’s Team, who will be coached by fellow Wonthaggi resident Nina Barry-Macaulay. “It’s great there’s a large contingent of Wonthaggi players heading over to Hungary,” Camille White said. “At least we’ll know quite a few people!”

Many of the Wonthaggi players have competed in previous world championships or national events, but this year is the first time the Wonthaggi Underwater Hockey Association will be so well represented. The growth of the sport is expected to grow with a push for Underwater Hockey to be part of the 2020 Olympic Games as a demonstration sport. Around 20 other countries will be competing at the World Championships, which start on August 24 with finals beginning on August 31. “We’ll be playing one or two matches a day up until the finals for the first six days of round robin competition,” White said. “It will be exhausting!” Focus recently has been on the players’ preparations; some will be leaving this week to begin their training in Hungary.

White said her Hobart-based coach had been sending out intense training programs in the lead-up. “Most of us are training up to five days a week. “For me, that means a 5.30am swimming session, running and workouts. “It can be difficult at times without a coach there and without your teammates who are all around Australia, but we’re a national team and want to do the best we can so that’s the motivation to do it.” White is now based in Melbourne but still has Wonthaggi Underwater Hockey Club as her listed club. She is in Melbourne studying, doing her PhD on environmental impacts of aquaculture.

It’s clear from her early sports as a swimmer and diver that water would play such a huge role in White’s life. She was first introduced to the sport as a 22 year-old while studying in Hobart. When she returned to Victoria, she kept playing with Wonthaggi. The sport is played with a puck, 30cm-long stick, goggles and fins. “As a swimmer and diver I just combined the two really,” she laughed. “For me, underwater hockey was a good way to be social rather than just swimming solitary laps up and down the pool.” White is hoping her team can go one better at these World Championships in Hungary.  In 2011 she represented the country at the World Championships in England where she was a silver-medallist.