Waterfront: June 2006

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  Underwater Hip Check

Hockey hits the pool.

Americans seem to love finding new and interesting ways to burn off those extra pounds β€” remember Tae Bo? Here's a novel way to get some exercise and enjoy the pool that's much more than a fad: underwater hockey. The Palm Beach Underwater Hockey Association meets twice a week, at the pool, to cross their sticks. According to club member David Andrews, the oldest player in Florida at 67, the sport got its start in the U.K. in the 1950s. "In the 1950s, in the British Sub Aqua Club, in London, England, a group of people got together trying to think of some way to keep interest among skin divers during the cold winter months," says Andrews. "And they developed a game they called octopush. There were eight players on a side β€” that was the octo β€” and the push was that they pushed something around on the bottom of the pool. They ended up with a puck that they called a squid, tying into the name octopush. They thought it was cute, and I suppose it is."

Octopush and a burgeoning underwater hockey game in the United States melded into one sport internationally in the 1970s, according to Andrews, and the sport is now officially called underwater hockey. The game, as described by Andrews, is pretty simple. It's played at the bottom of a swimming pool by six players on each side, using miniature hockey sticks, made of wood or plastic. The puck, a 3-pound piece of plastic filled with lead, is placed on the pool floor, and the two teams try to push it with their sticks into the opposing team's goal area, usually a trough of PVC pipe. "A regulation game is 33 minutes, with two 15-minute halves with a three minute break in the middle, where they change ends usually," says Andrews. "It has developed into an international sport with players in around 30 countries. It's not very big in the United States."

The West Palm Beach team is made up of players from all walks of life, from retirees to teenagers, says Andrews, and it's great exercise. "It's great cross-training; it's very lowinjury and low impact. Most players make a number of very short dives. I am on my third pacemaker, and the doctors love it. They didn't know I was playing, but when I needed my first one they wondered why my cardiovascular system was in such good shape. And I told them about underwater hockey and they said, 'Don't quit playing.' I play by doctor's orders, I say."

Aboriginal Children Continue To Reap Benefits Of Pools

Health benefits proven in long-term study.

As first mentioned in our February 2006 Waterfront story, "Pool Time For School Time," aboriginal kids in remote Ngukurr, Northern Territory, Australia, were enjoying a recently built pool in their community β€” provided they attended school and participated in the "no school, no pool" program. From The Australian, Australia's national newspaper, comes more good news about the health benefits of pools in other remote aboriginal communities.

At the West Australian community of Jigalong, where temperatures can regularly soar above 122 degrees Fahrenheit for days at a time, the pool has provided some welcome relief, and is an incentive to boost children's school attendance rates, much like the pool in Ngukurr.

But more even more impressive than the increased school attendance is the six-year health study, conducted by the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, that just came to a close at the pool. The study "provides evidence to support the anecdotal belief that installing pools β€” described by experts as giant saline solutions β€” in isolated indigenous communities will cut rates of ear, skin and respiratory disease and reduce the associated use of antibiotics," according to an article in The Australian. Specifically, the study found that since the pool's construction in 2000, respiratory disease has been cut by 63 percent and antibiotic prescriptions are down 41 percent. Research conducted in conjunction with the local health clinic also shows that rates of skin disease have fallen 51 percent and ear disease has dropped by 44 percent.

"There was not a lot of evidence about swimming pools and the impact on kids' health," says Fiona Stanley, Telethon Institute director. "It's the first study of its kind in the world, as I understand it. The impact is so pronounced that even with the small number of children involved, it is really significant."

The organization hopes to use the compelling statistics to generate more funding from the Australian state governments to build more pools in other remote communities.

No Running. No Diving. No Horseplay.

Horse inexplicably takes an icy swim.

Perhaps practicing for a local Polar Bear Plunge, a Genesee, Wis., horse that got loose and broke through a fence wound up taking a frigid January dip in a neighbor's ice-covered swimming pool. The horse, named Dancer, was saved from total immersion by the pool's cover. "He was caught up in the pool's cover, which was probably a good thing because it kept him from going to the deep end," horse owner Gayle Loiselle told the Associated Press.

Upon noticing Dancer, the pool's owner called for help and local firefighters were able to hoist the horse out with netting. The horse, believed to have been in the pool for at least an hour and a half, was treated for cuts and bruises at a local animal hospital. Asked to speculate as to what led Dancer to the pool, Loiselle said, "There's no logical reason really for him to go where he was. It's not an attractive place for a horse."

The Most Attractive Tool In Your Box

A new idea book for Sundance dealers.

Most pool builders show clients a portfolio of previous projects to spur their imaginations and help them imagine beautiful pools in their own backyards. Now Sundance Spas dealers can offer their customers the same type of inspiration. The portable spa supplier recently released an idea book titled Portfolio: Spas, which shows a variety of Sundance Spas in elegant, wellappointed settings.

The featured projects come from Sundance dealers from California to Norway, and many of them are past winners of the Sundance International Design Awards. "I've been in the spa business since the early 1980s and I've never seen another hot tub manufacturer put together a beautiful picture book like this," says Andy Hilger, corporate sales manager at George Morelan Plumbing, Portland, Ore. "All too often, customers have a difficult time imagining how to incorporate a spa into their backyard, especially when they purchase a house with no landscaping. This book will be an incredibly useful tool on the sales floor."

Burglars And Blunders

One hot tub goes missing, while another gets missed.

Stealing a hot tub has got to be easier than swiping an inground pool, which, believe it or not, did happen last year at a summer cabin in Norway. But when the hot tub is filled, as was the tub stolen from a backyard last March in Bloomington, Ind., you've got to wonder, "How could the burglars have gone unnoticed." Somehow they did. According to the Associated Press, "Police said there were no vehicle tracks and no sign that water had been drained from the tub," which is a fourperson Jacuzzi hot tub worth about $4,500. At press time, the tub had not been recovered, but Captain Joseph Qualters with the Bloomington police says, "We're pretty sure we know who took it, but it's a matter of proving it."

An even more chilling tale involves three Milwaukee college students who forgot to bring a key when they sauntered outside for a late-night soak in a friend's hot tub in February.Finding themselves locked out in July wouldn't have been such a big deal, but on this February night, the temperature reached as low as 12 below in the Milwaukee area β€” the coldest night in more than seven years β€” and the wind chill was a frigid 35 below.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "There was at least a little of what police described in their reports as 'running and screaming in the neighborhood,' but the two males were eventually able to get back in the house somehow."

A young lady in the trio went to several homes searching for help β€” all the while dressed in only a swimsuit, sandals and goosebumps the size of Antarctic icebergs. A homeowner finally let her in and police escorted her and her male companions home.

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