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What are Different Types of Underwater Sports?

By Kristin Wood
Updated May 23, 2024
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There are several kinds of underwater sports, from scuba diving and snorkeling to underwater hockey and underwater target shooting. Most underwater sports are not well-known, and many do not have large, organized leagues or competitions. Although several sports include the word "underwater" in their title, they may not fully take place underwater. Some underwater sports are actually played at the water's surface. This does not mean, however, that all surface-level sports are included in the underwater category.

Scuba diving is typically thought of as one of the most popular underwater sports, although it is not usually competitive. Divers might consider themselves scientists, photographers or hobbyists rather than athletes. Scuba divers can swim deep under the ocean for long periods of time because they bring with them their own air supply. Their air tanks are called self contained underwater breathing apparatuses, which forms the acronym SCUBA.

Similar to scuba diving, snorkeling is also one of the noncompetitive underwater sports. Its purpose is for underwater observation from the surface level. The snorkelers cannot go deep, although their faces are entirely submerged in the water. Snorkeling usually takes place above a reef or ship wreck. These swimmers will typically wear a diver's mask covering both eyes and the nose, and they will hold a snorkel in their mouths; the top of the snorkel remains above the water and allows air flow.

Not all underwater sports are noncompetitive. Octopush, or underwater hockey, is an international sport where two teams compete to see who can make the most goals with an underwater hockey puck. This game is played at the bottom of a pool, and each team member wears swimfins, a diving mask and a snorkel. Gloves, mouthguards, and swim caps might also be used for safety reasons. The color of the gloves will signify which team a player is on.

Those who participate in underwater target shooting might compete in a variety of events, such as biathlons, relays and accuracy competitions. Shooters will use an underwater crossbow, and they will wear a diving mask, snorkel and swimfins. A weighted belt can help keep them steady while they shoot underwater. This sport usually takes place at the bottom of a pool.

Spearfishing is one of the oldest types of underwater sports, and techniques can vary among participants. Some spearfishers will attach snorkels, others will bring scuba equipment, and some use nothing but quick trips back to the surface to grab another mouthful of air. Methods for spearing the fish can differ as well. Spearguns and slings are some of the commonly-used tools. Some consider spearfishing to be the most eco-friendly way of catching fish, since it uses no bait and needs minimal equipment.

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Discussion Comments

By Animandel — On Mar 11, 2014
@Sporkasia - I agree with you that snorkeling and scuba diving are very different. I go snorkeling whenever I get a chance. When snorkeling, I feel free and I can easily move about the water.

I went scuba diving with my family during one of our vacations. I found the air tanks awkward when I first put them on. I thought I would be able to tolerate them better once I entered the water, but the tanks were still awkward for me.

Also, I felt enclosed as went deeper underwater. I felt more like I was imprisoned rather than free.

By Sporkasia — On Mar 10, 2014

I like sports and exercise and I like being in the water, so water sports are among my favorite activities. Before reading this article, I was not aware there was a version of hockey played underwater. This sounds like a blast, but for now I'll stick with scuba diving.

Scuba diving is a great way to explore the ocean and mingle with sea life, as is snorkling. However, you should be forewarned that snorkeling and scuba diving have some major differences, so being a fan of one doesn't mean you will necessarily like the other.

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