The U13 Water Polo Team has won the National Final, meaning that Bolton School teams have won all three English Schools’ National Championships for the second year running!
The U13 team travelled to Northampton School for Boys to compete in the English Schools’ Swimming Association (ESSA) Finals competition following their huge success in the regional qualifying round in March. Prior to the competition, the U13 team enjoyed an Easter tour of Holland where they were able to train and play additional matches to enhance their skills. This trip normally takes place at the end of the year, but was moved forward to allow the boys extra practice before the National Finals.
On the day of the National Finals, the Bolton boys played very strongly throughout. They dominated the group stages of the competition, winning 7-2 against King’s School Grantham, 8-0 against Haberdashers’ Aske’s School, and 9-3 against Dulwich Prep School. In the play-off games, the Bolton boys faced local rivals Manchester Grammar School and won with 7 goals to 1, earning a place in the final.
Once again facing Dulwich Prep School, the Bolton School team played with confidence in their final match of the day. With an excellent score of 10-1, they emerged victorious as National Champions.
Every member of the U13 squad played in all of the matches on the day, and so the whole team returned home knowing that everyone had done his part in winning the trophy.
This is the second year running that Bolton School has achieved the triple success of winning in all three ESSA age categories. In early March the School’s U15 and U18 water polo teams defended their titles at their age group National Finals, held at Bolton One, with the U18 team holding on to the trophy for the third year. The U13s continued the winning streak and completed the hat-trick by winning the third and final title.
Bolton School remains the only School to have held all three national ESSA titles simultaneously.
The fact that each one has been defended this year is an outstanding achievement for all of the boys involved. It is also a testament to the hard work of the teams, which boast several members who have attended over 100 training sessions this year, and their coaches, Dr Mike Yates and Mr Andy McGinty, who was recently chosen as one of the Assistant Coaches joining the Great Britain Men’s U19 team at the recent European Championships qualification tournament.
The last time the School achieved this level of success in two consecutive years was in 2003-2004, when Bolton School was the first school ever to defend all three titles. At the time of the previous triple win in two consecutive years, Old Boy Ed Scott was a member of the School team; he went on to play water polo for the United Kingdom in the London 2012 Olympics and captained the England Water Polo team for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Other alumni from this era include Ed Grundy, who was a member of the Scottish water polo side at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and Olympic water polo players Charles Booth, Andrew Crawford, Richard Lawlor and Rob Rae.
Water Polo remains strong within the School and beyond. Both current pupils and alumni play for national title-winning City of Manchester squads, and members of School teams are regularly selected to play at regional and international level. Most recently, Jos Winstanley was selected for the England U16 team at the EU Nations Championships, which took place in Vienna in March. His older brother Aaron, who is now an Old Boy, was chosen to captain the U19 British squad at the European Championships qualification tournament in April, where he was joined on the squad by Chris Ray; both players helped last year’s U18 team to victory in the National Finals.