City of Bristol

City of Bristol Aquatics was formed from the merger of three well-established clubs affiliated to Gloucester County:

City of Bristol Swimming Club was established in 1985 as a Performance Squad and has a proud history of placing swimmers on junior/senior International teams.

Bristol Central Swimming Club was established in 1937. Originally purely a swimming club, Bristol Central evolved over the years and became one of the few clubs in the UK that encompassed the three aquatic disciplines of swimming, synchronised swimming and water polo. 

Bishopsworth Swimming Club was established in 1982 at the now-closed Bishopsworth Swimming Pool and moved to Hengrove Park Leisure Centre when it opened in 2012.

Craig Figes, former captain of the Men’s GB Team.

Bristol Central (BCWP) now known as City of Bristol (CoB) had a slow start but has grown into one of the leading clubs in Great Britain. In the early years, between 1937 and the 1970s, BCWP were rated as relative water polo minnows in the West Country. At this stage, our 1st team only ever competed against the reserve teams of nearby “giants” Weston-Super-Mare and Cheltenham. Our path changed dramatically in 1976 when we entered the English National League in the 3rd (lowest) division. The turnaround in BCWP’s ambition was mostly down to one man-Peter Sherman. After his own promising career, which included Great Britain under 20 (year old) representation was cut short by a medical condition that affected his balance, he immediately turned his passion to coaching. Peter built a team based on a punishing training regime. Despite losing many of the most talented young players to clubs that were deemed ‘bigger and better, the team grew in confidence. Pete’s own son Jez Sherman was one of those who transferred clubs and went on to captain Great Britain for many years.

In 1986, thanks to the second wave of talented young players developed by Sherman, the team gained promotion into the 2nd division of the National League. In 1989 Bristol Central won the 2nd division and gained promotion into the top flight of British water polo for the first time. Unfortunately, as happens with many young teams, it was a step too far, too soon and the team was relegated the following year. BCWP  bounced back immediately to gain promotion again in 1991. This time, ready for the challenge, BCWP managed to finish 5th in division 1.

Our improvement continued as we attracted Bristolian players back to the city. 1992 saw the return of Rhys Tamlyn, who was a GB international. In 1994 Jez Sherman returned and we attracted other younger international talent such as Jon Hutchings from Exeter. In 1995 BCWP had an outstanding season and won the National League becoming English water polo champions for the first time. Players such as John Sissons and Craig Figes (just 15 at the time) were part of the Bristol team and were regulars in the Great Britain squad. The team continued to be coached by Peter Sherman and had now become the team to beat in Great Britain. Our first English league title was followed up with British Championship titles in 1996,1997 (when we completed the domestic double winning the English league for a second time) and 1998. Peter Sherman stepped down as coach in the late 1990s but BCWP continued to develop young players into top internationals. Young talents such as Matthew Thresher, Paul Morris, Greg Harper, Daniel Williams and Andy Crawford bolstered the GB players of the 90s. These players helped to keep the club at the top of British water polo throughout the 2000s and gain individual international honours. BCWP had the honour of representing Bristol and GB in several European club competitions throughout the years.

With our most recent British titles in 2011 and 2013 and through our continuing work with local swimming clubs and schools, we are building upon the legacy of the London Olympics at which BCWP player Craig Figes was Captain of Team GB, Many of our former international players are heavily involved with coaching as we strive to continue our proud history and build an even brighter future. 

Men A Squad: The Men’s A squad has a very proud history of competition in the UK, being British Champions and British league Champions many times in recent history (3rd in 2016!) and have represented GBR in European competition on many occasions.  We have a history of developing senior international athletes and we are committed to continuing this tradition! The pathway into the Senior Men’s squad is from the Senior Development squad and we are already seeing many junior athletes make the step up to training with the men and competing for the senior squads.  The physical preparation, as detailed in the junior and younger squads, is required to compete at this level. Athletes will complete sessions as detailed below including land warm-up and cool down / stretching.  Additionally, fitness and strength training sessions, as well as any maintenance/rehab sessions, are to be completed in the athletes own time.  Senior men in the A-Squad are competing at the highest level of competition in the UK, and fitness/strength are basic requirements so that tactical and technical water polo can be focussed on in the squad sessions.

Men B Squad: The B squad provides an alternative pathway to continue playing senior water polo, without having to follow the programme to compete in the premier UK competitions.  Therefore, the training is similar for this squad but can be completed at a lower level and without requiring additional sessions.

The squad competes in the Bristol & West league and cup competitions as well as any other appropriate competitions. The sessions for this squad, which still include land warm-up and stretching, are enough to compete at this level.  Athletes in the B squad can step up to the A squad when they are willing and able to make the step up to the more demanding training regime.

COMPETITION STRUCTURE: CoB currently competes in the following regional and national competitions:

British League – National level competition. Our Men’s and Women’s teams compete in this competition.

Bristol & West Water Polo league – 

  • Our Men’s A and Barbarians teams compete in the Premier Men’s division.
  • Our Harlequins team compete in Division 2.
  • Our Women compete in the Women’s division.
  • We have 2 Junior teams, our A team in the first division and B team in the second division.

National Age Groups – We also enter Junior teams into the National Age Group (NAG’s) competitions as and when we have the strength and depth in numbers to compete.

Our younger players compete in intra-club games and also games with similar level clubs/schools in order to get used to competition.

Visit the City of Bristol Website by clicking here.

To find their home pool, please click here for Hengrove or Bristol South