Glenwood pupil cracks nod for underwater hockey side

2014-03-18 00:00

GLENWOOD High School Grade 12 pupil Michael MacDonald was selected for the SA U19 men’s underwater hockey side, the second time he has cracked the nod for the squad, having travelled with the side to the CMAS World Champs in Eger, Hungary, last year.

“That was an unbelievable experience and the most memorable moment for me was the opening ceremony, when you realise why you are there and what you are representing,” he said.

Besides his SA selection, MacDonald has been in the U19 KZN men’s side for the past three years, not bad going for a player who only took up the sport in 2012.

“My family does quite a bit of scuba diving and my diving instructor’s son is an underwater hockey player. He suggested I get involved and, as I have always been keen on spearfishing, thought I would combine the two,” said MacDonald.

He soon discovered a talent for the game, recognised with his selection to Hungary last year. “We finished fifth overall, which was not bad, considering 22 countries participated,” he said.

MacDonald was also part of the KZN U19 side that recently won the interprovincial junior nationals in Stellenbosch.

MacDonald swims daily, except Fridays, where he knocks off about 2,5 kilometres in the pool, more than half of that underwater.

“I do breathing exercises, simulations, which is a huge aspect of the game. When a player really gets good at the game, he can sit in the water as such, watching what’s going on, thereby able to move up and down quite quickly, whenever needed,” he said.

Next year, the SA U19 side is off to Spain for the World Champs and there are no prizes for guessing what his goal is on that trip. He also has another target up his sleeve. “I hope to captain that side,” he said.

Underwater hockey, while a technical game, relies more on a player’s speed rather than strength. “I tend to lose weight during tournaments, which bene­fits me in the water,” he said. “I rely on supplements and shakes to give me the nutrients I need.”

While his spear fishing opportunities are few and far between, MacDonald is also a keen hunter, setting his sights on impala, kudu and nyala at least five times a year.

“I make my own biltong, which means I don’t just pull the trigger for the sake of seeing something drop,” he said.

MacDonald also enjoys classic rock music and reads avidly, especially science fiction and fantasy novels. His role model is Brent Borstlap, the SA men’s elite vice-captain and his favourite subjects at school are maths and technical drawing.

For someone keen to study architecture at Tuks or UCT next year, it’s not a surprising choice.

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