Anyone for Water Polo?

Quentin Bazar plays for a 12-and-under traveling team in Greenwich, Conn.
Quentin Bazar would like to get a water polo house league going at the Y.M.C.A. East Hampton RECenter. Jack Graves

Quentin Bazar, an Amagansetter who’s 12, 6 feet, and growing, said during a recent conversation that he’s “always done things that have to do with the water,” though, in order to pursue the sport he loves, he has to cross a large body of water, Long Island Sound, to engage in it.

That sport is water polo, and he plays it for a 12-and-under traveling team in Greenwich, Conn., which recently acquitted itself well at USA Water Polo’s Junior Olympics in Stanford, Calif.

Quentin, who is lanky, has long arms, and has the stamina necessary, plays goalie on one of Greenwich’s teams, and he seems to have chosen his position well. “Some of the field players are faster than I am and some are stronger, but they’re not as comfortable in the water as I am,” he said, when questioned.

Yes, it helped to have a long reach, he said, in order to cut down the angles. Quentin has played goalie in soccer as well, and when asked for a comparison, said, “Water polo takes a lot more leg energy — your legs are always moving. In soccer, you stand and react. You’re always moving in water polo, and, of course, it’s much harder to jump. It’s like soccer, except in the water you’re using your hands instead of your feet. Getting the angles right is crucial.”

Most shots, he said, were taken “from either 2 meters or 5 meters out. You can shoot from the outside [as a lacrosse midfielder might do], but it’s much harder to score from the outside.”

His mother, he said, had put him on to the game two years ago, taking him to Greenwich to see the Chelsea Piers complex there. He checked out a water polo practice and was intrigued. Soon after, he was recruited to play for Greenwich Aquatics.

Water polo’s played 7-on-7 in a 25-yard pool, he said, the games lasting about a half-hour. The 3-meter-wide net “is like a small soccer net . . . it sticks out in the water.”

He liked knowing he was “the last line of defense,” Quentin replied when asked why he was drawn to play goalie. “You’re more important to the game — like a pitcher or a first baseman in baseball.”

As for being scored on, “I take it in stride. I’m the last line of defense, so if I’m scored on that means some other players didn’t do their jobs.”

Quentin has been a student at Ross the past couple of years, after having started out at the Amagansett School. He’s a junior lifeguard, has swum for the Hurricanes, the Y.M.C.A. East Hampton RECenter’s youth team, and has played Little League for Tim Garneau’s Pirates.

Definitely he would like to see water polo here. “I see why it might be a strain because of the time it takes to get to meets, but we could start with a house league at the Y. We’d have to use all the lanes, though maybe we could practice in a couple of lanes. . . . Most of my friends would give it a try. . . .”

Asked who would be the coach, he said, “Hopefully there’s somebody out there who has played it.”

As for Greenwich Aquatics, “there’s practice every day except Wednesday. Friday it’s a dry-land workout and then practice. . . . I would have been on the A team if I’d had enough practices.”

Water polo, he acknowledged, was a tough game, requiring that players be in terrific shape. In water polo, he added, “mostly you mix the breaststroke with freestyle so you can pass, fake, and shoot. If you don’t have the ball, you can swim freestyle with your head down and looking up. . . . I work out, on my upper legs mostly, and I use swimming machines.”

As for his coaches, “we have an all-around coach named Bill Smith and an assistant whose name I can’t pronounce. He’s a Rumanian.”

“Say no more,” his interviewer said. “Rumanians are tough.”

“He screams at us in Rumanian,” Quentin said with a smile, “while we’re doing 100 pushups on a track that’s over a basketball court.”

Asked if he wanted to keep at it, Quentin answered in the affirmative. “Hopefully I’ll get a scholarship. . . . That pool at Stanford is really nice.”