BIIF water polo: Without a pool, Kealakehe makes ocean practices work

  • MATT GERHART/Tribune-Herald Kealakehe Meiling Kam scores a goal Saturday against Hilo.

KEAAU – It’s not uncommon for players and coaches to look forward to games more than practices, but the dynamic has taken on an entirely new meaning this season for Kealakehe’s water polo team.

With three BIIF matches on the schedule at Kamehameha, Saturday made for a long day, but Naeole Pool must have felt like an oasis of sorts to the Waveriders. They haven’t had the use of a pool for much of the season, so four to five times a week coach Chris Chang and his team can be found at their make-shift practice site in Kailua Bay.


“I expect them not to be completely sluggish, I expect them to adapt,” Chang said after Kealakehe fought past Hilo for its second win Saturday to close the day. “We’ve had to deal with so much variables in the ocean. Between the surf, the winds, coming here, it’s simple.

“It’s forced us to kind of change the way we look at how we practice, but yeah, we’re making it work.”

If and when Kona Community Aquatic Center reopens, the Waveriders will probably appreciate it like never before. When the pool closed indefinitely in early March after a filter faltered, moving all the previously scheduled matches from KCAC was the easy part.

The harder part comes when the Waveriders swim roughly 100 meters out into the bay and set up shop, though the predicament does have it advantages, Chang said.

“There are no walls, it’s just you and the ocean, there is no resting if you get tired,” said Chang, who is either swimming with his team or on a paddleboard during ocean practices. “There is the buoyancy factor, you are more buoyant in the ocean.”

On the other hand, teams that practice in pools don’t have to worry about the goals drifting away, not to mention ocean rashes or the dehydration factor.

“In a pool, if you get dehydrated, you just come to the edge,” Chang said, “In the ocean you have to swim quite a ways just to get rehydrated.

“The girls are pretty hydrated. I preach all the time they should be hydrated.”

Then there are the cruise ships.

“Those boats create a circulation current in there,” Chang said.

The bulk of the matches at KCAC were moved to Naeole Pool – the two venues are preferred because neither has a shallow end – including the BIIF semifinals (April 18) and championship (April 20). Last week, the BIIF held matches at Konawaena’s pool for the first time since water polo was a trial sport, and Wednesday’s matches will take place at Hawaii Prep for the first time this season. At 3 p.m., Kealakehe (8-3) and Hawaii Prep (6-2) meet in a semifinal preview.

Waiakea and Keaau also don’t have pools at their schools, but the Warriors train at Sparky Kawamoto Swim Stadium, while the Cougars use Naeole.

“I mean, I think it makes us stronger,” Chang said, “but I would be happy to get a pool again.”

Saturday’s results

Kamehameha 14, Kealakehe 4

Nani Spaar scored four of her five of her goals in the first half, and the Warriors (11-0) pulled away in the second half to wrap up the regular season title and earn an automatic berth to the HHSAA tournament.

Summer Akau and Cherish Keliihoomalu each had hat tricks for Kamehameha, which plays Keaau (0-10) on Tuesday in its final playoff tuneup.

Shyani Sensano and Meiling Kam each scored twice for the Waveriders, who trailed 5-3 at the half.

Kealakehe 9, Hilo 6

Meiling Kam scored six goals, including four in the second half to hold off the Vikings.

Keli Hanley recorded a hat trick for Hilo (4-7), which trails Waiakea (5-5) by one and a half games for the final playoff spot.

Kealakehe 11, Konawaena 5

Coral Richardson broke a 5-5 tie late in the third quarter with her second goal, and Kailey Fediuk took over from there with a hat trick.

Nikki Demers scored three times for the Wildcats (2-9).

Hawaii Prep 9, Waiakea 6

Chloe Hughes posted three goals, and Jacqueline Payne and Morgan Davis each had two to propel Ka Makani.

Ashley Rynkewicz and Korrie Tengan scored two goals apiece for the Warriors. The Warriors can clinch the final postseason berth this Saturday by winning either of its matches against HPA or Hilo. If Waiakea loses both, it would face the Vikings in a play-in game

Hawaii Prep 14, Hilo 3

Jacqueline Payne scored four goals, Chloe Hughes had a hat trick and Morgan Davis scored twice for Ka Makani, which led 10-2 at halftime.

Keli Hanley had two for the Vikings.


Waiakea 17, Konawaena 2

Grace Nichols (six goals), Ashley Rynkewicz (four) and Korrie Tengan (four) carried the load for the Warriors, and Mackenzie Carvalho scored twice.

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