No, the sticks aren't a metre long, that would be silly. They're 30cm max length and can easily lift the 1Kg puck off the bottom of the pool. Good players can get long (3m+) and high (1m+) flicks. Neither is it a slow sport - players wear fins and can go much MUCH faster than boring old lane swimmers.
AKA Underwater Hockey (UWH):
Invented in 1954, the original English rules had 8 players per team and the sticks are called 'pushers', hence "Octopush".
The rules are generally similar to hockey. When going for strike at the start of a game, all the players start at their goal line. There's 2-3 water refs in a competition, plus timekeeper and a poolside ref.
There are national and international competitions. Pretty big in New Zealand, South Africa, USA, UK, France, Australia, Portugal, Netherlands...
Water Polo players think their sport is challenging, but they struggle to think below the surface:
Water Polo: "Ug? Me drown you"
Free Diver: "I can hold my breath for blah blah blah..."
Underwater Rugby: "O hai, can I hold you?"
Octopusher: <elitist smirk>