What Are Some Underwater Sports

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There are many types of sports available for those who enjoy athletic activities. For those who like aquatic fun, there are also many underwater sports that can prove to be exciting, rewarding, and fun. This article will discuss some underwater sports, their safety, and the most popular underwater sports played today.

What Are Underwater Sports?

Put simply, underwater sports are sports that are conducted under the water. Some are sports that have been modified for a sub-aquatic environment, while others are activities based in water to begin with that have been made into sports. Underwater sports use a combination of diving techniques and equipment, such as:

  • Snorkeling- swimming through water using a diving mask, a breathing device called a snorkel, and swim fins
  • Scuba- using a self contained underwater breathing apparatus to breathe underwater
  • Breath-Hold- relying on holding the breath until resurfacing rather than a mask or apparatus; also known as free diving

They can be conducted at natural sites of open water, such as the ocean, or confined water, such as lakes. They can also be performed in artificial aquatic sites such as swimming pools.

Are Underwater Sports Safe?

As mentioned above, underwater sports combine diving equipment and techniques. This equipment, when used properly, makes it possible for you to breathe safely and maneuver underwater while reducing the risk of injury. Of course, it is important that you are an experienced swimmer. If you are not, you may benefit from taking swimming lessons and diving courses to help you become familiar with diving equipment and techniques before attempting to perform sports underwater.

Learning Underwater Swimming Techniques

There are many swimming courses available at different levels depending on the students’ skill level. If you are interested in playing underwater sports, it is best to take some of these classes and earn certifications.

The Padi Open Water Diver Course

This course is the most popular scuba certification course with the numbers of people who earned the certificate reaching into the millions. It involves three steps: 1. Knowledge development- the first phase that helps you to gain a basic understanding of the principles of scuba diving 2. Pool sessions- the second phase that helps you learn several important diving skills and equipment handling techniques 3. Open water dives- the third phase that allows you to apply your knowledge to real-life situations is the Puget Sound or a resort near you

The PADI Advanced Open Water Course

Though it says advanced, you don’t have to be an advanced diver to take part in this course. Designed to be entered after completion of the PADI Open Water Diver course, this class allows you to build your scuba skills and increase your confidence so you can be more comfortable in the water. It introduces new underwater activities to you and allows you to continue to learn under the supervision of your PADI instructor. The only prerequisites are that you are at least 15 years old and have a qualifying previous open water diving certification.

Advanced Courses

There are also other more advanced courses available if you are interested in diving professionally, such as:

  • The Underwater Sports PADI Digital Underwater Photographer course- learn 
  • The PADI Underwater Videographer course
  • The Enriched Air Nitrox course
  • The Divemaster Course
  • The Rescue Diver Course

Taking these courses will ensure that you are completely safe and comfortable in the water, which is important to participate in more strenuous underwater sports. There is a variety of underwater sports available for you to learn and enjoy.

Top Underwater Sports

There are many types of underwater sports, and they all offer their own advantages for all aquatic sports lovers to enjoy.

1. Aquathlon (Underwater Wrestling)

This is a sport where two competitors wear masks and fins and wrestle underwater. The objective of the sport is to remove a ribbon that is tied around each competitors’ ankle. It takes place in a 16-foot square ring within a pool and typically has three 30-second rounds. A fourth round is added in the event of a tie.

2. Finswimming

This is an underwater sport involving four techniques of swimming:

  • Surface swimming– A relay race where swimmers swim on the surface of a swimming pool or open water using a snorkel, a mask, and monofins.
  • Apnea finswimming- A 50 meter relay race that involves swimming underwater in a swimming pool using a monofin, mask, and holding one’s breath
  • Immersion swimming with breathing apparatus– A 100 or 400-meter relay race conducted  in a swimming  pool using a monofin, mask, and underwater breathing apparatus
  • Bi-fins– A race conducted in a swimming pool or open water at various distances requiring a snorkel, mask, and the pair of fins and using a crawling style along the surface of the water

Events are held that exist over distances similar to swimming competitions for both open water and swimming pool locales.

3. Freediving

Freediving is a form of underwater diving that completely relies on the diver’s breath-holding capabilities instead of apparatus. There is a range of competitive disciplines in which competitors try to attain great times, distances, or depths on a single breath.

4. Spearfishing

Also known as competition spearfishing, this is an underwater competitive sport that involves the use of hunting and capturing fish underwater using a breath-hold technique and a tackle system, such as a speargun. It is done as a tournament of a fixed duration that involves other competitors.

5. Sport Diving

Sport Diving uses recreational open circuit scuba diving equipment and is conducted in a swimming pool. It consists of a set of both team and individual events that test the competitors’ skill level in recreational scuba diving technique.

6. Underwater Hockey (UWH)

Underwater Hockey is an underwater sport that is also known as Water Hockey or Octopush. It is a limited-contact sport where two teams of six use a stick to propel a puck across the bottom of a swimming pool into the others’ goal. It is played globally and is governed by the CMAS.

7. Underwater Ice Hockey

Also known as sub-aqua ice hockey, Underwater Ice Hockey is a variation of Ice Hockey that is played upside-down underneath frozen ponds or pools. Two teams of six players use the underside of the frozen surface as the surface to move the floating puck across. Competitors wear fins, diving masks, and wetsuits. They do not use breathing apparatuses; instead, they surface for air every 30 seconds.

8. Underwater Football

This underwater sport is played by two teams using a slightly negative buoyant ball (a ball filled with seawater) underwater by carrying and passing from one side of a swimming pool to the other. Points are scored by getting the ball into the gutters on either side of the pool. Snorkeling equipment- snorkel, mask, and fins- are used for breathing and movement.

9. Underwater Rugby

An underwater sport involving two teams that try to get a slightly negative buoyant ball into heavy metal buckets at the bottom of a pool. Each bucket is placed on opposite sides of the pool and serves as the goals.

10. Underwater Photography

Underwater Photography is a scuba-based underwater sport that consists of teams of competitors using digital underwater cameras and scuba gear. The competitors all dive in the same saltwater ocean sites at the same time over a two-day period. Each team then submits their digital images to be assessed by a jury. Ratings are given according to no more than five different categories and team members are also given an overall score.

11. Underwater Video

Underwater Video is similar to underwater photography. Instead of using a digital underwater camera, competitors will use digital underwater video systems to dive in the same saltwater ocean sites at the same time over a two-day period. Just like underwater photography, each team will submit their digital videos to be assessed by a jury and are given rankings and an overall score.

12. Underwater Orienteering

Underwater Orienteering consists of both team and individual events in which the competitors’ competency in underwater navigation is tested. Competitors wear scuba diving equipment and swim an underwater course by following a route marked on a map that is prepared by competition organizers. A counter meter and a compass are used to measure the distance covered. This sport is conducted in both open and sheltered water.

13. Underwater Target Shooting

Underwater Target Shooting is an underwater sport that tests the participants’ ability to use a speargun. Individual events and team events are conducted in a swimming pool using Apnea or free diving technique. The objective is to hit the targets that are set up by the event coordinators accurately.


Underwater sports can be enjoyable for anyone who wants to look into a new hobby or enjoys being in the water. It is important to make sure you have the proper skills and knowledge to make sure you are safe as you play. With the variety of underwater sports available, you will enjoy aquatic activities for a lifetime!


Jack Thompson

Jack Thompson, a scuba diving enthusiast from San Diego, has spent over a decade exploring the underwater world across the globe. Sharing his passion through captivating stories and informative articles, Jack aims to inspire others to embark on their own scuba diving adventures and uncover the ocean's hidden treasures. Follow Jack on Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, and Facebook or email him at Jack@diving-info.com

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