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Inaugural Swim England Water Polo Talent Games hailed as a success

The inaugural Swim England Water Polo Talent Games has been hailed as a success after young water polo players from across the nation got the opportunity to compete at the highest level possible for their age group.

Coventry’s Alan Higgs Centre hosted the event which featured U16 and U14 boys and girl’s squads from each of the four water polo talent centres which launched in December last year.

The Swim England Water Polo Talent Centre initiative was created to offer elite coaching for younger players and equip them with everything they need to thrive on the international stage.

And the Talent Games event provides the platform for each of the talent centres to compete against each other in full matches under World Aquatics conditions.

A series of matches between each of the centres featured across the weekend, which also included a morning of education and classroom sessions for the teams.

Workshops were run on match preparation, healthy nutrition and a session on strength and conditioning before the players took to the water.

The athletes then got the chance to take part in a number of water based masterclasses with members of Great Britain’s 2012 Olympic team and some of the current GB senior players.

London 2012 Olympians, Rosie Morris (GK), Fran Clayton, Craig Figes and Glen Johnson as well as current British stars Katy Cutler and Tom Manley (GK) led the athletes in a number of training drills such as a ‘drive’ session where players were taught some expert tips on how to beat the goalkeeper and to help them in one-on-one situations.

Coaches were able to learn more about the new World Aquatics rule changes that are being implemented into the sport and the weekend even included a Table Officials course which resulted in nine new officials gaining a qualification.

And Swim England’s Water Polo Programme Lead, Craig Figes, spoke to the athlete’s parents about the aspirations the programme has for the nation’s young talent.

‘Building on these experiences’

Speaking about the event Figes said: “The inaugural Talent Games was a huge success.

“All of the athletes and coaches who took part seemed to really enjoy the event and the extra training that their talent centres have been providing throughout the year.

“Our key long-term objective is to improve both the England and Great Britain sides in international competition and to do that we need to provide our young talent with the best opportunities possible to improve.

“With the launch of the talent centres and the talent games, we’re hoping to build on these experiences and educate our youngest players to the highest level we can provide.

“Thank you to all the GB athletes, past and present, who came to support the event as well as all the coaches and staff that have helped in the development of each of our talent centres.

“We’re looking forward to the next Talent Games event in July where we will be able to see just how much the athletes have improved since March.”

The next Talent Games competition takes place on the weekend of the 8-9 July 2023. You can find out more about the Swim England Water Polo Talent Centre initiative here.