A year earlier in Southern California, Palos Verde masters swimming coach Bryan Weaver was almost coerced into giving his swimmers water polo time.

“Every night at swim practice, a bunch of guys said ‘can’t we just play water polo? We just don’t want to follow this black line’.

“I gave in and we played water  polo. There were 35 guys who turned up and some Olympians. There was a real need for this with a lot of people wanting to play. I started asking questions; approached USA water polo — no masters; swimming — no (water polo) masters.

Image Source: Russell McKinnon/World Aquatics

“I had a brilliant idea, declaring a national championship, inviting every masters swimming and every water polo club to attend. It was held in El Segundo and seven teams turned up from 270 invitations. We had three 25+, three 30+ plus one 35+ team. We played everyone.

I declared my 35+ team national champion  and had our photo on the cover of USA Water Polo’s Scoreboard magazine,” Weaver said.

From that introductory year, the competition expanded to 20 teams in four years and in the late 1990s topped out at 92 teams. In Budapest in 2017, more than 100 teams contested the World Championships.

Image Source: Russell McKinnon/World Aquatics

Weaver says USA was the first country to stage national championships. “From there it took off. Everyone came out of the woodwork. They were happy to do something they loved.

I’m goal-oriented; I train much harder and am better prepared, improving my body and making it stronger. With events like this you’re extending your life span.”

Weaver, who for a long time was chair of USA masters water polo for many years, has been competing with the San Diego 70+ (Main picture) team in Kumamoto, Japan at this year’s World Aquatics Masters Championships.

Lifelong Friendship

Typical of the friendships made in sport and in masters is a pair of Canadian youngsters who started playing water polo in 1974 and went on to command Canadian junior and senior water polo for a decade.

Image Source: Russell McKinnon/World Aquatics

Mike Krzus (Right) and Peter Hall (Left) hailed from Vancouver where they learnt the game in their formative years.

They drifted apart as Krzus went to USA to study and then shifted to Western Australia. Hall went to Calgary and on to Japan where he has resided since 1991 in Oita, three hours by car from Kumamoto. He was involved in the 2001 FINA World Championships as an announcer and was in Fukuoka again on pool deck during the recent World Aquatics Championships.

The pair connected about five years ago in Vancouver for a day when both were visiting and again in Kumamoto in the past week.

However, they did not meet in the water as Hall is playing down a division to Krzus’ division. They do meet daily at breakfast to reminisce and hearing their stories is just priceless.