Sixteen KGGS girls travelled to Northampton School for Boys to represent the school in U15 and U18 Girls’ English Schools Swimming Association (ESSA) National Water Polo Finals.
The morning saw 11 of the girls play in the U15 competition. A resounding opening 8-4 victory with a goal in the first 30 seconds by Coyle set the scene for what was to be a great day of school water polo. A further 5-2 win against Notting Hill saw KGGS top their group and progress to the semi-finals where they met Alleyns – the team they beat in the final last year. A tighter match, but true team work and determination gave KGGS a 2-1 win and a place in the finals.
A brilliant final with the KGGS girls playing by far the better water polo and winning 6-3 saw them become national champions for the second successive year, a great achievement and certainly well deserved. Goals were scored by Peters (7), Knott (4), Coyle (3), Jackson (3), Barnett (2), Langdon and Barnes.
Immediately following the U15 medal and cup presentations, six of the U15 girls – Coyle, Knott, Jackson, Peters, Barnett and Barnes – joined their U18 team-mates who were on a mission to show themselves worthy contenders for the U18 ESSA title, having left the competition at the qualifying round last year.
With an age range of 13-16 years, bar one player, the young U18 team were ready for action following their qualification at the preliminaries in Manchester last month.
In their first match against Trinity, the girls played a masterclass of water polo for a convincing 11-0 win and establishing themselves as serious contenders for the national title.
In the second match against northern favourites Compton House, very evenly matched sides battled closely to produce a 1-1 draw. This was followed by a further superb win over Bedford 10-2 to secure first place in their group and a place in the semi finals. This match saw a goal by goalkeeper Naya Patel who scored with a dream shot from one goalmouth to the other in the final second of the match.
KGGS met Alleyns in their semi-final match and a 5-2 win put them through to their first ever U18 ESSA National Water Polo Final.
The final saw KGGS against their old adversary Compton House once more. Although Wilkinson took the first goal for KGGS, luck was not to be on their side this year and Compton managed to put three goals past the post to claim the title.
In a tremendous display of teamwork, goals were scored by Wilkinson (12), Bosworth (9), Kirke, Peters (3), Bitowt (2) and Patel (1).
It was a great achievement by a team most of whom will return to the U18 side the next two if not three years in their quest for the ESSA national title.
KGGS headteacher David Scott was at poolside for part of the finals day. He commented: “It was a great day for the girls, KGGS and for Grantham. I was immensely proud of every one of them, for the competitive spirit they demonstrated whilst still enjoying the whole experience.
“To have the U15 national champions for the second year in a row, and the U18 runners-up at their first attempt is quite an achievement, and bodes well for the future.
“ I think great credit should go to the coaches and teachers who were with them on the day, and who have been involved in their preparation over many months.”
KGGS’s U13 team have qualified in their preliminary round to play in the national finals next month.
The girls all train twice weekly with Grantham Water Polo Club at The Meres and thanks are given, in particular, to Jim Caulfield who has given his time to coach them on a Monday morning for the last four months, along with all other coaches involved.