Sevenoaks Water Polo went into 2020 being the strongest and the most sustainable it has been in over a decade. Membership was at a record level and a number of their junior players had been selected in 2019 to represent Kent and the South East Region.
The positive momentum of the club continued into the new year when they were selected by Swim England to pilot their latest Water Polo initiative; a local primary school tournament for complete beginners to sample the sport.
With the help of Swim England, Sevenoaks School and Claire Strange of Sevenoaks Outreach, the club were able to welcome over 70 Children from nine different local primary schools to try water polo. The Children played a simple version of the sport based on fast passing and swimming, with lots of goals scored. The day was a roaring success and the club were lucky enough to welcome Andy Fuller (Water Polo Development Manager for Swim England) and Sevenoaks District Councillor Dr. Merilyn Canet as guests of honour at the event.
The event gained national interest in the water polo community, with multiple clubs looking to host similar events later in the year based on our blueprint. The tournament demonstrated that whilst water polo is still seen as a minority sport it can be easily accessible for all ages and abilities.
That tournament took place on 11th March 2020 and the seven days that followed would change everything, with a full lockdown putting all plans to continue growing water polo in the community on hold.
Fast-forward to mid-July and after 126 days in lockdown with no swimming pools open. Sevenoaks Leisure Centre and Sevenoaks Swimming Club were amongst the quickest to react to new government guidance to reopen swimming pools and on the 25th July the club was back in the water, just not as they’d known it before! What followed was very strict, socially distanced training; not something that comes naturally to a sport affectionately described as ‘underwater rugby’.
Extra swimming training and treading water was on the menu for their players in smaller isolated groups, but most were glad to just be back in the water and amongst friends again.
After six weeks of socially distanced training, and with everyone’s competitive energy ready to boil over, the club were delighted to receive Swim England guidance, that Water Polo was amongst the sports approved by the government to return to competition.
Due to the chlorine in the water, Water Polo is thought to be amongst one of the safest sports to play at this moment in time, and what better way to celebrate than with a few training games for their Senior and Junior teams.
The club would like to extend a massive thank you to those at Swim England, Sevenoaks Leisure Centre and Sevenoaks Swimming club that have made the return possible and have ensured their player safety is maximised throughout. Now, the club is looking forward to arranging some friendly games in the coming months and hopefully a return to league competition in the winter.
Sevenoaks Water Polo Club is always looking to grow and take on new members. The Senior team train 9pm to 10pm on Wednesdays and the Junior team (aged 10+) currently train 5pm to 6pm on Sundays.
Whether you’re a complete beginner or you’ve played before, please do pop down and try out the sport, email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.