CHICAGO, Ill. -- The Przekota family tree probably is a lily pad.
Ever since a young age, the Przekotas have felt comfortable splashing around pools. John and Felicia Przekota dropped off their six boys at Shabbona Park on Chicago's Northwest Side so the youngsters expended as much energy as possible.
"They used the pool there as a way to get us to take baths," joked the third-youngest brother.
The Przekota brothers, all of whom spent most of their younger days in Park Ridge, are John, Dominik, Chris, Peter, Joe and Matt. John, Dominik and Joe graduated from St. Patrick. Chris attended Fenwick, while Peter and Matt went to Maine South.
Other than their last name, what ties them together is water polo. Every one of them played the sport.
"I was getting bored with competitive swimming," said John, the oldest and a 1995 graduate of St. Patrick. "I was never a superstar, always a borderline state qualifier. I needed something to keep me in the pool, and water polo was it."
Barred from playing football growing up, John loved the physical nature of water polo. He laughed, remembering when his mother first realized how rough the sport could be.
"She was like, 'Gee, what did I get you guys into?' " said John, one of two high school coaches in the family.
Dominik followed John at St. Patrick by two years. When Dominik, whose team won a state championship, wanted to continue water polo in college, John said that he did, too, and they both selected Iona. John began his college career at UIC.
Chris headed to Fenwick and belonged to the generation that began the Friars' run as one of the best programs in the state.
"He was there for the run of terror," Peter said.
Chris then followed the flippers of his two older brothers to New Rochelle, N.Y., to Iona.
Peter bucked the trend and went to Maine South, his hometown school. Even though the Hawks didn't have a water polo team at the time, Peter and his dad were determined to get a program started.
"I guess I was unlucky," said Peter, who later played at St. John's and joined John in the coaching ranks after college. "I still played it as a club sport in high school. My parents asked me if I wanted to go to St. Pat's, but I was already established at Maine South. I didn't want to start over."
Like Peter, Joe was convinced Maine South would start a team while he was there. But the sport still couldn't catch on, so he left for St. Patrick. He's now a senior at Iona, where he earned All-America honorable mention selection for the 2009 season. He became the first Iona player since his brother Chris (third team All-American in 2002) to be picked for the honor.
Finally, fortune found Matt. He was a senior last spring when the Hawks played their first varsity season. He's now playing club water polo at Texas.
"We liked the originality of it," Peter said of the sport, which became IHSA-sanctioned for the 2001-02 school year. "We were the only kids in Park Ridge that played polo. That's what we were recognized by."
Dominik was an assistant coach at York when the Dukes advanced to the state tournament in 2008. Peter's in his third year at Resurrection, while John is the first-year coach of the Niles West boys team. This is the Wolves' first season of water polo.
"I heard through the grapevine that they were thinking about starting a team," said John, who coached at St. Patrick after he graduated college. The hardest thing is, I came from a team with a track record. That's the hardest thing when you don't have leadership at the top. On the other side, walking into a program like this, you don't have to break any bad habits. I get to teach them my bad habits."
Most of the brothers also are involved in the fledging Walrus Water Polo club out of St. Patrick and Northeastern Illinois. John said that Niles West will participate this offseason.
"Water polo still is a young sport, but you see it growing a lot," John said. "You can see the talent is more spread out than when I was playing. I'm glad to see it opening up like that. That's a great thing, and that's what helps the sport grow."
John credit the likes of Jack Wagner, Marty Gibson, Rich Norman and Jeff Wimer -- now the Stevenson girls coach -- for teaching young athletes and getting water polo established in the mainstream.
"Now it's our turn to carry the torch," he said.