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School Shows National Dominance at Water Polo

Monday, 09 March 2015

Over the course of the last weekend, Bolton School has shown its dominance in water polo on the national level with the U18s retaining their national title and the U16s winning their age group’s competition.

Mr Andy McGinty, who is one of the School’s water polo coaches, said about the teams’ successes: “This is an outstanding achievement for Bolton School and a testament to how hard the boys have worked. They have been incredible to work with since I joined four years ago, with unparalleled dedication and commitment to training. I am extremely proud of this set of boys and what they have achieved. I will miss the boys who leave this year tremendously.”

This year’s U18 team is of a particularly high calibre: four of the boys have joined national sporting programmes for their performance in water polo, and six are members of GB Water Polo squads. Bolton School Goalkeeper James Barker is one of them, and travelled out to Malta in the days following the national competition to compete with the U17s in the European Championship qualifying tournament.

Both teams qualified strongly in the regional stage of the ESSA Championships. The U16 and U18 Water Polo players were therefore keen to continue their success at the national level, which this year was held at Walsall.

The U16 team began the day with a tough match against Trinity School, which they lost narrowly with final score of 3-4. However, the boys were not disheartened and went on to win their second match against Dulwich College. This put them through into the semi-finals, where they played off against the team from King Edward’s School Birmingham and won a place in the final.

For the second time, the U16 team faced Trinity School. There were some understandable nerves after the earlier defeat, but this time the boys managed to turn it around. Once again it was a difficult match, but the Bolton School boys eventually emerged victorious with a score of 5 goals to 4, and received the title of National Champions!

In the afternoon, it was the U18 team’s chance to defend their title. After dominating the regional championships, the boys entered the national competition with a great deal of confidence, and on the day made a formidable team – scoring 10 or more goals in every one of their matches and conceding less than 10 throughout the whole day!

They once again came out on top in the group stage of the competition against King Edward’s School Birmingham and Dulwich College. The semi-final match was against local rivals Manchester Grammar School, but the Bolton School team were on form and won the match with a score of 13-1.

King Edward’s School Birmingham also qualified for the final, which made for an exciting repeat of both teams’ first game of the day. Despite the opposing team’s best efforts, the Bolton School boys’ winning streak could not be broken. In the final seconds, with a score of 11-1 and nothing to lose, Year 13 student Aaron Winstanley decided to take a shot from the centre line – and managed to score! As this will be his last match with the School, his final Bolton School goal will certainly be a memorable one.

The U18 team was delighted to reclaim the title of National Champions for the second year running, with an incredible score of 12-1 when the final whistle blew.

Dr Mike Yates, who also coaches the teams, said, “The standard of the English Schools water polo competition has been steadily improving on a national level. This is due in part to a number of schools employing foreign coaches, from countries such as Croatia, Hungary and Italy. The U16s final was really competitive and incredibly exciting for the neutral spectator – but nerve racking for the coaches! The U18s were exceptional to watch, providing a masterclass of both individual talent and team play, reflecting the dedication to training that the players have shown in their playing careers. Tribute must be made to the commitment, nurturing and expertise that School and national coach Andy McGinty has offered the squad both at school and at the City of Manchester, where all players also train; he must take full credit for both teams’ success and for enabling the individuals to achieve their potential at National level.”

The School has a strong legacy of Water Polo, with many Old Boys continuing to play the sport for their local clubs. In this year’s Men’s British Water Polo Championships, there is a Bolton School presence in four of the eight teams selected as the top in the country to compete. Old Boy Ed Grundy played for the Scottish side at the last Commonwealth Games, where he faced fellow Old Boy Ed Scott, who captained the England team. Ed Scott was also part of the 2012 Olympics Great Britain water polo team.

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The U16 Team returned as National Champions

The U16 Team returned as National Champions

A member of the U16 team in action against Dulwich College

A member of the U16 team in action against Dulwich College

The U18 Team have reclaimed the National Champions title for the second year running

The U18 Team have reclaimed the National Champions title for the second year running