Most people, whether connected to the school or not, would consider Head of Computer Science at Eton College a prestigious position. For Mr Cormell, however, his responsibilities do not end there, as he is also the Master-in-Charge of Eton’s sub-aqua activities – a particularly elegant name for underwater sports at the school.
At the moment, the main branch of sub-aqua provision is SCUBA diving courses. Upon completion of the PADI Open Water Diver Course, an opportunity open to any pupil in Year 10 and above, divers are granted a license to dive anywhere worldwide. In the Lent Half, Eton worked in collaboration with the UK’s only Gold Star & PADI 5 Star Dive Centre, Divecrew, holding sessions in the school pool on six Thursday afternoons, constituting a part of the school’s Outdoor Education Carousel.
In order to expand their repertoire, a committed collection of pupils travelled further afield. A Sunday morning trip to an Open Water Session at Wraysbury took place recently, offering divers the chance to complete the relevant section of the PADI qualification.
Soon enough, though, the scope of Eton’s sub-aqua provision will increase dramatically. Beginning in the Michaelmas Half of 2022, Mr Cormell intends to introduce underwater hockey to Eton’s sparkling array of sporting events. Engaging in such a sport has only been made possible by the completion of the new pool, the floor of which, crucially, can pivot vertically, changing the depth. Now the pool can extend to a depth significantly greater than before, which is a prerequisite of the sport.
It is often referred to as ‘Octopush’ in the United Kingdom, which is only the first of the sport’s many wonderful idiosyncrasies. Somewhat surprisingly, it began in this country as long ago as 1954, when teams of eight used small sticks called ‘pushers’ to propel the puck, originally termed a ‘squid’, along the pool’s floor. In general, rules align with the ice and field equivalents whilst accounting for, of course, the water.
Scuba equipment is strictly prohibited and, as a result, players’ ability to hold their breath is a central consideration. For instance, as Mr Cormell explained, if two players are jostling for the ball, and one has to swim to the surface for air, it will be impossible for him to continue to challenge.
Mr Cormell is searching for an evening to host underwater hockey next half. Whatever the arrangement, owing to the uniqueness of such a sport, it’s certain that there will be a queue of pupils ready to take part.
Thank you to Mr Cormell for telling the Press Office all about his work so far. We look forward to an update from the sub-aqua world soon!