Battling it Out

The game Battleship has evolved from a board and players yelling out “D-7” to life-size canoes, paddles and buckets of water.

In 2013, the University of Cincinnati first implemented a Battleship tournament into its aquatics program. Six teams of four are each given a canoe, paddles and buckets. Their goal is to fill up competitors’ canoes to sink them and be the last boat standing.

Bringing Battleship to the aquatics center allowed for the staff to open new doors for students. “A lot of it just has to do with trying to find new fun things to do, maybe even to get people to try out the pool who aren’t normally drawn to it,” said Robert Weeks, the coordinator for aquatics at the university.

Typically, the tournament happens in September. Weeks said they have tried putting it on in the spring, but it didn’t do as well. As for teams, there are no restrictions on who can and cannot be on a team — for instance, there can be all-girl, all-guy and even co-ed teams.

When it comes to figuring out how to best run Battleship at a university, Weeks explained it can vary from school to school. For instance, the University of Cincinnati’s Battleship tournament is point-based and happens in the span of a day while other schools in Ohio have it go on for several days. By asking what rules you want to enforce and how long you want the tournament to be from the beginning, you can determine a lot about the event. “Try to figure out how you can make it work for your facility,” said Weeks.

At first, the hardest part about implementing the Battleship tournament for Weeks was establishing the rules, registration process and getting the initial canoes for the event. Now, the tournament has its regulations and its canoes; it simply needs marketing attention. However, Weeks did note that sometimes students get creative and rules have to be revisited.

For instance, this past tournament a team’s strategy was driving their canoe on top of competitors’ canoes, forcing those canoes to sink. Other teams decided to do absolutely nothing and let others battle it out. While the first was a safety problem, the second slowed down the tournament significantly. “Probably one of the most entertaining things is to see the different strategies people come up with and having to adapt to that year after year,” said Weeks, adding they are working to figure out how to address those issues.

Despite having to adapt and learn as he goes, Weeks said Battleship is fun and worthwhile to pursue, and he encouraged other aquatic centers to implement it. “I think a lot of people are interested in doing it, so it’s just determining how each place can make it work,” he said.


Heather Hartmann
Heather Hartmann is the editor for Campus Rec Magazine. She can be reached at

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