Water polo sides from Bolton School won national titles in the u16 and u18 competitions at the ESSA championships, which were this year held in Walsall.
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.”
Four of the boys in this year’s u18 team have joined national sporting programmes for water polo and six are members of the GB water polo squads. Bolton goalkeeper James Barker is one of them and recently travelled to Malta to compete with the u17s in the European Championship qualifying tournament.
In Walsall, the u16 team began by losing 3-4 against Trinity School, but went on to win their second match against Dulwich College. This put them through to the semi-finals where they won a place in the final by beating King Edward’s School Birmingham. This put them up against Trinity School for the second time, but this time Bolton beat their opponents by 5-4.
The u18s, meanwhile, beat King Edward’s School Birmingham and Dulwich College to go through to the semi-finals where they beat local rivals Manchester Grammar School by 13-1. Bolton then played King Edward’s again in the final, beating them by 12 goals to one.
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.”
Many old boys continue to play water polo 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 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.
Pic credit: Nicholas Plant