STRATFORD’S top men’s canoe polo paddlers travelled to Coventry’s 50m swimming pool to play their fourth tournament of the 2015/2016 competition season.
Coventry is a familiar venue for the leading canoe polo players but they will have to find a new venue soon as Coventry City Council has announced its closure at the end of 2017. However, it is hoped a new 50m pool will be available for use at the University of Birmingham in 2017.
Canoeists from two local clubs took part in the tournament. The Dragon team included 1992 Olympic canoe slalom paddler Chris Arrowsmith who changed his discipline from canoe slalom – rough water through hanging gates – to canoe polo’s quieter flat water team games.
He has paddled for the Dragon men’s team since that time, along with local and Welsh paddlers. The team has no base and has relied on the inherent skills of its experienced paddlers to maintain its position at the top (Division One) of men’s canoe polo.
The team now contains paddlers of all ages who come together for the tournaments.
Local paddlers make up the Cherwell Canoe Polo A team, newly-promoted to Division One at the end of the 2014/15 season, and also contains paddlers of all ages as the club’s vice-chairman Andy Datsun is still a member of the Division One team after 20-plus years.
Cherwell Canoe Polo Club is based on the open air swimming pool at Woodgreen Leisure Centre in Banbury. They also run the winter Sunday evening polo session at Stratford Leisure Centre from which many paddlers, including Dragons Chris Arrowsmith and the local GB ladies’ team squad members, benefit by taking part.
Cherwell have found it a difficult move into Division One, as most teams do, and have failed to win a single game in the two tournaments they have competed at this season.
This left them tenth and last in the Division One competition and they will hope their regular training will lift them in the final tournament at Coventry next month and the play-offs in which they play every other team in Division One over a weekend in May.
The Dragons did not enjoy the best of times either, only managing to win one game in each of the two tournaments they have played so far. They beat the Meridian A team 5-4 which leaves them eighth in the Division One Men’s League.
The Dragons will also compete in the fifth pool tournament next month and in the play-offs.