Men’s water polo junior utility player Chris Garau leads the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) in assists. However, for Orange County native Garau, the sport has always been about a lot more than just the competition.
What’s an interesting fact that people don’t typically know about you?
My record for holding my breath is 3 minutes and 45 seconds.
What’s your favorite color?
Green. I don’t really like to wear green. Blue, I like blue. Not really sad blue, but like sky blue, I guess.
How did you get into water polo? Why did you start playing?
I started when I was 12. My parents signed me up and I had no clue what water polo was, but I did swim before and I liked swimming. So I started it and just kept doing it for eight years now.
What position do you play?
I play on the right side. I play in a spot called “five,” which is far down at the wing pretty much. So I’m at two meters. It’s usually for lefties, but I’m a righty and I’m good at it for some reason.
You’re leading the SCIAC for assists. Is there any strategy that goes along with that?
Playing where I’m at down there, I’m supposed to be a lefty. Shooting is kind of hard to do down there, because it’s hard to shoot being a righty on that side. So I’m just good at passing the ball.
When I played club, my coach always emphasized that there’s always an extra pass to be made. So instead of just shooting the ball when you think you’re open, there’s probably somebody else who is more open.
I just learned to play by making extra passes, so that was always what my goal was. It wasn’t really about me scoring – it was about getting my teammate open to score.
Why did you pick Chapman for water polo?
This is the only school I would have gone to for water polo. I liked Chapman because it was Division III. I have friends who play at top schools and they commit their entire lives to water polo. I love water polo, but I didn’t want it to be my job.
Here, I have my season where I can play water polo and then after that, I can enjoy college and do other stuff.
What about Chapman water polo do you like the most? What’s unique about it?
We’re here to have fun. We know we’re not at the top of the tiers like the University of Southern California or Stanford University. We’re just here to have fun. It’s more like a hobby that we do.
There have been a lot of injuries on the team this past season. Why does the sport seem to cause a lot of injuries?
Our injuries are different than other injuries. Like in other sports, when you get hurt, you might get pushed down and hurt your ankle. Our injuries are not impact injuries. It’s more from over-time use.
How have you learned to manage your commitment to water polo with your schedule?
You just have to find time. Whenever you have open time, you just can’t go and screw around. It’s kind of weird. It kind of helps you because you have so limited time. You kind of just do stuff when you have time and get it done.
It’s actually hard during off-season when you just have too much time. Then you just find all these distractions and you just don’t get to it.