INNOVATIVE water polo players have swapped the pool for the lake to keep on the ball during the coronavirus pandemic.
With indoor facilities unavailable, Rotherham Metro are taking the plunge in weekly training sessions at Manvers Lake alongside members from the City of Sheffield club.
Rather than being squeamish in the great outdoors, the wet-suited juniors and seniors are lapping up being closer to nature.
“We’ve been working in a little recess where the canoe polo takes place,” explained head coach Norman Leighton. “It is like a calmed area protected from the wind.
“We had to dredge the area and get many of the weeds out because the kids get excited when something tickles their legs!
“I also have to moderate the training to keep them warm and not let them stay static for too long but generally it’s been brilliant and we’ve been blessed with some decent weather so far.
“There hasn’t been too many foul days and only one when I had to keep warm with my rain Mac on. It didn’t bother the kids because they were already getting wet.
“We have been quite innovative in arranging this. The kids are grateful, they have had a ball in there.”
So popular are the sessions, people have come from Nottingham and Leeds just to get the chance to play and sharpen their skills.
Norman praised the people at Manvers, the leisure providers and officials for helping get the training off the ground and ensuring the players’ safety.
The only downer is that there is no prospect of proper matches any time soon due to current Government guidelines.
The British Water Polo League has been cancelled and the most recent restrictions have put the kibosh on any friendly fixtures.
“We have gone backwards a little bit,” admitted Norman. “Competition is what it is all about.”
In the meantime, Metro continue to train in bubbles and as autumn sets in, the club is getting an unexpected numbers boost.
“We have six or seven newbies wanting to start so we thought we’d get back in the water first and see how it actually works,” he added.
“As for Manvers, we’ll keep working there until it gets really cold.
“I am looking to use it on a regular basis next year and even having competitions there because it is suitable.”