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Water Polo

Have you ever thought about taking up water polo?


Thinking about taking up water polo? What are you waiting for? Visit discover.swimming.org to find your nearest club and get involved!

Swim England Water Polo Conference 2023

10 June 2023 (09:30 – 17:00) at Haberdashers’ Boys’ School, Butterfly Lane, Elstree, Radlett, Borehamwood WD6 3AF

An exciting opportunity to hear the latest developments across Water Polo and Swim England. View details and sign-up.


FINA Technical Congress met on 4 October 2022 and approved a set of changes to the water polo rules.  These changes will come into force on 1 January 2023. See here for more details.

FINA rules apply to all water polo competitions promoted by Swim England, Scottish Swimming, Swim Wales and their affiliated organisations. The new rules will apply only to competitions and league programmes that commence after 1 January 2023.  Current competitions and league programmes should continue to apply the FINA 2019-21 rules. View announcement

We suggest referees, coaches and players who are not yet aware of the latest FINA rules and how they are to be interpreted view this Water Polo Rules Update.

Referees Course

Interested? View Water Polo Referees Course: Part 1, Rules and application

Guidance for Running Safe Events

The Government is removing remaining domestic restrictions in England and has published its plan for living with COVID-19. From 24 Feb in England you will not be legally required to self-isolate if you test positive for COVID-19. Stay at home if you can and avoid contact with other people. You will not have to take daily tests or be legally required to self-isolate following contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Staff and students in most education and childcare settings no longer need to test twice a week. View Government updates.

Swim England’s guidance documents are available to view at: https://www.swimming.org/swimengland/pool-return-guidance-documents/

Water Polo across Somerset has connections at Frome, Taunton, University of Bath, Weston Super Mare and now Yeovil following the formation of Yeovil Spartans (see April 2018 announcement).

This discipline of our sport is co-ordinated at Regional level. The current County Water Polo Secretary is Mike Coles.

Teams from Frome (Senior Men), Taunton Deane (Senior Men and Juniors), University of Bath (Senior Men) and Weston Super Mare (Senior Men) currently compete in the Bristol and West League. Why not keep in touch with progress throughout the season?  We are also keen to develop Ladies water polo - Taunton Deane play regularly and welcome new members.

Swim England Water Polo Talent Centre Trials

This initiative will offer elite coaching to players born from 2007 to 2010, and those selected will receive weekly or fortnightly coaching from a team of experienced international coaches. View
- trial dates and fees for Bristol Talent Centre (closing date for registering on open trials is midnight 2 Jan 2023)
- dates for Talent Games
- dates for U16 national training camps (TBC)

Level X Water Polo

Under 18s registered as category two members at water polo clubs across the country were able to take part in Level X when indoor pools reopened from Monday 12 April 2021. Over 18s were able to take part from 17 May 2021 as per Government guidance and the roadmap out of lockdown. 

View details on the format of the competition which involved water polo players completing a series of core skills each week whilst building up their fitness. The team with the best score will win.

It ran until the end of Aug 2021 with the aim of the new season and a return to matches and events beginning from September.

New rules for the sport were introduced just before the first lockdown, If you are not familiar with FINA Water Polo Rules (valid from 12 Mar 2020) please follow the link to download them.

Swim England Water Polo Strategy 2020-2025

Swim England is aiming to double the number of registered water polo players in the next five years as part of its new strategy to develop the sport.

On 29 Apr 2020, the National Governing Body’s Water Polo Leadership Group published the comprehensive Swim England Water Polo Strategy 2020-2025, which details a number of targets to help the sport grow. It has been developed following months of consultations with players, officials, volunteers and sports administrators. Please ensure the strategy is circulated as widely as possible. 

On 14 Feb 2021, Swim England Water Polo Leadership Group chair, Toby King, gave an update on the progress made so far.

Olympian Craig Figes is to take part in a Q&A session on 16 April 2021 at 7pm, discussing his career and his vision for the future of water polo. Book your place.

Coming up in the near future will be a proposed Coaches Forum for the region. And also in the pipeline will be another online referees' course and a table officials course. Details of these courses will follow shortly.

Please note the deadline to prepare for Swim England Stronger Affiliation has passed to enable Clubs to reaffiliate in 2021.

Funding available to help schools unearth next generation of water polo players

Applications open to be one of five different state schools to receive £500 funding. View details.

FINA Swim&Play Ball Programme

Read about the development initiative which includes the Swim&Play Ball manual as well as complementary video material that provides basic knowledge for water polo instructors in order to assist them introducing the discipline to children aged between 7–9 who can already swim, those new to the sport, or beginners regardless of age. 

FINA's Water Polo Rules - Open Course

Developed working closely with recognised water polo experts, the consists of four modules which are free of charge for participants:


  1. Water Polo Field of Play, goal, ball and caps
  2. Water Polo Teams
  3. Water Polo The Game
  4. Water Polo The fouls
Access the course and register here.

TRY Water Polo Funding

Applications were previously open until 5pm on Monday 24 February 2020 for water polo clubs to apply to Swim England for funding  to pay for equipment, coaching fees or hire additional pool space.in order to help encourage new players into the sport. View details.

Within Somerset ASA's 2019/20 Development budget, a funding pot of £2,500 focused on encouraging more participation in the disciplines of Open Water, Water Polo, Synchronised Swimming and Masters. Somerset ASA's Development monies helped Taunton Deane to fund the purchase of an electronic scoreboard which will be in use  in club matches from the start of the September 2019 season.

We publicised an opportunity for you to have your say and help shape the future of water polo at a regional meeting held on 10 December 2019 in Swim England South West's Office. View summary.

We publicised a Swim England Water Polo Management Group consultation with water polo members to understand what changes can be made to the current junior competition structure. Its aim is to ensure the needs of the community are met and that the right environment is provided for our junior water polo players to develop to their full potential while enjoying themselves. After analysing survey results, recommendations will come into force next season.

South West Regional Academy

The SW Region Water Polo Committee runs the Regional Academy which forms part of the elite training pathway.

The South West Water Polo Academy aims to promote, train and support junior water polo players throughout the South West in an attempt to advance their participation in the sport. Traditionally players who have represented their county at the various age groups were invited to attend the Academy to further their skills and attempt selection to the South West Regional team which play at Inter-Regional events. Additionally, some of the stronger players in the Regional Academies may get recommended to the National Academy.

The Academy is continuing to hold seven sessions a year at Millfield School. The two-hour sessions will run for boys and girls (separate sessions with some cross-training) in two different age categories. The two-hour sessions are normally set at a higher standard than normal club sessions.  However, in 2021 the early session also  accommodated a development session so that more of the region's players can attend. View Apr 2021 announcement that training sessions resume 17 Apr, earlier updates inviting new players and providing key information and dates.

There is no inter-relationship between the Regional Academy / Regional Academy Competitions and the Inter-Regional Championships or County Competitions. The Region / County will continue to select teams to represent the Region / County with the aim of fielding the strongest possible team, via a separate trial.

Mental Wellbeing online workshops

Swim England Water Polo is offering its Players on the Academy Programme an opportunity to attend a series of mental fitness sessions. Each will last for 60 minutes and there are four sessions across the programme. The cost is £20 per programme. View details.

South West Inter-County Championships

View report and results from Inter County Championships and Inter-Region Tournament held at Millfield over 30/31 October 2021.

The competition scheduled for 31 October and 1 November 2020 at Millfield did not go ahead due to the pandemic. Subject to the successful easing of lockdown restrictions according to the Government's roadmap, the 2021 County Championships are scheduled to be held on 23/24 October 2021 at Millfield.

We had to make the unfortunate decision not to enter any junior teams into the 2019 Inter-County competition. The rationale after consultation with coaches from Weston-super-Mare / Frome and Yeovil was that Taunton Deane is currently the only team in Somerset with a viable Junior or Ladies waterpolo section. And while our other clubs are working hard to resolve this, it was considered unfair to enter a club team from Taunton to play against very strong opposition from other south west counties with 2/3/4 clubs from which to pick their best players as it would be to the detriment of those children playing.

Training Session for U13s

U13 players in Somerset were invited to attend a training session in Taunton on Sunday 8 September 2019 so we can get children from our clubs playing together.

Somerset ASA 2014 Men's Water Polo Team

Devon Ladies, coached by Taunton Deane's Simon Tomlinson, were the victors in the 2019 Senior Ladies competitionj, and Devon were also the victors after beating Somerset 10-5 in the 2019 Senior Men’s Competition.

Unfortunately Gloucestershire pulled out of the Senior Men's 2019 competition prior to the weekend, leaving just Devon, Somerset and Dorset to complete, but the lengths of the games were increased so that teams did not lose out. The Somerset team, captained by Brad Poole of Frome, and coached by Nick Purslow of Weston-super-Mare beat Dorset 8-3 in their opening match, but lost to Devon 15-10 in the final, after Devon beat Dorset 10-8.

Somerset did not enter a team into the Nov 2019 the Senior Female Championships. Taunton Ladies did represent Somerset in the tournament at Millfield on 14 Jan 2018, losing to Devon and Gloucester but showing plenty of promise for a developing side (view Senior Females report). 

Somerset lost to Devon and by one goal margin to both Dorset and Wiltshire in the 2018 U14 Mixed Championships at Millfield on 24/25 Nov 2018. All six south west Counties were also represented In the 14 Jan 2018 tournament, Somerset lost 12-4 to Cornwall in the 5th-6th place play-off (view U14 Mixed report).

All six south west Counties were represented in the U12 Mixed Championships over 24/25 November 2018. Somerset players showed promise (view results). They did have a win to celebrate in 2017 over Wiltshire and we were narrowly defeated by Dorset. (view U12 Mixed report.).

Well done to all players and staff and a big thank you to all officials for supporting the 2019 tournaments.

View Swim England Water Polo Calendar Of Events And Camps (updated regularly).

Somerset Senior Men's Water Polo Tournament

All Somerset clubs with senior Men's teams (the University of Bath, Frome, Taunton Deane, Weston-super-Mare and Yeovil) are invited each year.

Our County tournament will be held in September 2020, at Millfield, and we hope to see all five local teams competing.

Frome won the 2019  tournament held on 21 September at Millfield beating 2018 champions Weston-super-Mare in the final game. Taunton were the other senior team competing but were beaten by both Weston and Frome. The shield was presented by County President, Kelly Podbury to the winning team. View report

British Water Polo League Super 5s 2018 Finale

Sky Sports featured British League matches for the second year running which could not have been achieved without the wonderful support of main sponsor, Bourne Buildings, of Farnham, plus additional sponsorship from JC Leisure, KEW Electrical, Vincent Timber, Thai Terre, CRL Restorations and Columbus Direct Insurance. Videos below Neutral Corner Films).

Women's Competition

WOMENs COMP v3 for toothcomb from Neutral Corner Films on Vimeo.


Men's Competition

MENs COMP v3 for toothcomb from Neutral Corner Films on Vimeo.



The Diploma in Sporting Excellence (DiSE)

A unique and industry-leading programme delivered by Swim England in conjunction with Loughborough College. This government-funded programme is fully integrated into all Swim England talent pathways and offers the perfect environment for athletes to harmoniously combine their sport and education. View criteria and how to apply here. The application deadline is 12 July 2021.


Applications are open for Swim England's Pathway Coach Programme 2021-2022 until 5 July 201.

TRY Water Polo Funding

We publicised an opportunity for water polo clubs to apply to Swim England for funding  to pay for equipment, coaching fees or hire additional pool space.in order to help encourage new players into the sport. View details

Thanks to 2019 Start Water Polo funding, a Swim England programme designed to increase the number of young water polo players in club structures, Weston-super-Mare SC will be taking their passion for coaching and playing water polo to new levels. 

City of Bristol, Yeovil Spartans, Taunton Deane and Weston-super-Mare.were among seven successful south west bids from the 2018 programme. Taunton Deane used START funding to purchase smaller 3/4 size goals to promote U13s water polo. This was successful and the Club has increased the number of children playing in this age category from about 5 to 20!

Weston-super-Mare Swimming Club water polo section runs FREE Have-A-Go Sessions for boys and girls aged 8 to 15 years at Hutton Moor Leisure Centre.

Taunton Deane has an open taster policy so anyone can come along and take part in taster sessions any Sunday at 5pm (timing is age dependent). Contact Simon Tomlinson (tomlinsons1@sky.com) for details.

We publicised the opportunity for athletes aged 8 to 14 years to try synchronised swimming and water polo activities with some of the top Team Bath and GBR full-time athletes and coaches in these sports at the national level. The #MinorityChallenge Half-Term Camp was held on 19 May 2019 at University of Bath Sports Training Village. View details.

Taunton Deane Water Polo organised an U13s Water Polo Tournament on 16 December 2018 (5pm to 8pm) at Taunton Pool. Station Road, Taunton TA1 INN  View details.

Wyvern Waterpolo held a 2 Day Camp aimed at club players looking to improve skills on 20/21 April 2019 at Kings College Swimming Pool, Taunton.

We also publicised a Wyvern Waterpolo Shooting Workshop held on Sunday 17 Feb 2019 at Kings College Swimming Pool, Taunton. 



Frome, Taunton Deane and Weston-super-Mare are considering the formation of probably one of the first Network Water Polo Clubs in England, by combining all the Somerset clubs together to form Somerset Titans Water Polo Network.

As well as providing an opportunity for Club senior sides to come together and complete in a water polo tournament to be held in a deep water pool, it could give a springboard for the seniors to enter the British Water Polo League as Somerset Titans, and enable young players to compete at the highest level.Frome, Taunton Deane and Weston-super-Mare are considering the formation of probably one of the first Network Water Polo Clubs in England, by combining all the Somerset clubs together to form Somerset Titans Water Polo Network.


Applications are open for Swim England's Pathway Coach Programme 2021-2022 until 5 July 2021.

We publicised a blended Swim England Assistant Water Polo Coach course with face-to-face dates in June 2019 at Osprey Leisure Centre, Portland.

Blended learning opportunities are  designed to develop the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to take your first steps into coaching. The Water Polo Assistant Coach course is  suitable for anyone interested in supporting a Water Polo coach in a club environment.

We congratulated Somerset coaches on their appointments:

  • Simon Tomlinson (Head Coach, Taunton Deane) will be supporting Swim England Women's U19 Head Coach Nick Hume. 
  • Giulio Sartorello (formerly Head Coach, University of Bath Water Polo Club before being appointed Head Coach Hamilton Sharks Water Polo Club in Dubai) had been invited to support Swim England Men's U19 Head Coach, Dean Walker.

Simon Tomlinson (Taunton Deane) applied to become a water polo tutor, something Somerset and the South West badly need and in view of this and his national commitments, Simon has stood down as County Coach with our thanks.

Simon  hopes to fulfil his ‘passion’ for water polo after being selected for UK Coaching’s Performance Foundation Coach Support Programme in 2019. Read more.

Sidcot School appointed Olympian and ex-GB Men's Captain Craig Figes as Head of Water Polo.


Swim England Water Polo Leadership Group has agreed a new qualification structure for referees which includes a clear development pathway from club to international level and will replace the previous grades A, B, C, D and P.

View announcement on the new gradings for water polo referees.

The Club Referee course is the first step on the Swim England Water Polo Referee Pathway.  It is aimed at Swim England members who wish to gain an initial understanding of Water polo FINA Rules and apply this within their club. East Region will be holding an online Club Referee course on 5 Feb 2022 for candidates aged 14+ who have  current SE membership. View details and how to book.

Next steps on the development pathway include moving existing officials to the new structure, building an accurate database of qualified officials and determining who is active and at which level of competition. To enable this process to be completed and to recognise existing qualifications and experience, officials are being asked to complete a short survey before the closing date of Sunday 11 April 2021. View details.

Referees Course

Interested? View Water Polo Referees Course: Part 1, Rules and application

Swim England is also inviting applications for new officials to boost water polo structure. View opportunities and next steps for referees and table officials.

A free table officials resource aims to recruit new water polo volunteers. There is no presenter so the resource can be completed at the pace of the participant and as many times as required. View details

All officials courses were delayed in Jan 19 whilst the new FINA rules were considered.

The History of Water Polo in the County has been recorded in pictorial form by Mike Coles – view slideshow or contact him for a unique way to see how the sport is featured.