Dr. Jonathan Stafford
I joined TSWPC in October 1986 when I was just 5 years old. I remember progressing through widths to lanes, being taught by legends of the club such as Gwyn Pierce and Mike Harrison, both of whom have sadly passed. When I got a little older, I wanted to swim more and more and so complemented my development at club with training at the Wigan Scheme of Excellence (what is effectively now Wigan Best).
I used to love the Tyldesley club galas, especially the mini gala, and I’m proud to say I held all but one mini gala record at one point. Although some of those records have since been broken by talented swimmers coming through, I am happy to see some still remaining over 30 years later as well as some records in the full gala. Come on kids, get ‘em broken!
I continued competitive swimming through my college years until I was about 18 years old but by then water polo had become the dominant force in my life and still is to this day.
I started polo when I was about 12 years old, playing for Dennis Topping’s “Diddymen”. Under Dennis’ coaching, and guidance from previous Club President Mavis Bent, we rose from pure beginners to ASA British National 16U water polo champions in a few years. A great achievement for a club in such a small town and Tyldesley continues to punch above its weight in swimming and polo to this day thanks to a great set up, and top class coaching and management. Water Polo became my passion and I went on to represent Manchester & District SWPA; Lancashire County WPSA (winning the national county championships); Northern Counties U18s and U20s (winning the National Inter District Championships with both teams); Great Britain Youth and Junior teams, culminating in my proudest moment, which was my selection for England Senior Men’s national team whom I represented from the age of 18 until 24 years old.
During that time, I played for Tyldesley senior men’s water polo team alongside other internationals such as Colin Bent, Stephen Davidson, Mike and Paul Cowburn, Phil Stout, Martin Barrett and Dominic Derbyshire as we were promoted from British Water Polo League Division 3 to 2 to 1 and qualified for the deep water championships (what is now Super 5s). I continued to represent Tyldesley in the British Water Polo League during my time at University at both Manchester and Cambridge after that, and played for London Polytechnic briefly whilst living in London.
When I returned to the area in 2012, I once again played for Tyldesley in both local and national league, coaching the men’s team as player-coach for a stint (having previously coached Lancashire under 18s water polo team to National Gold and Silver medals in back to back years, as well as having been deputy coach for Northern Counties U18s in the Inter District competition).
I always wanted to give something back to the club so I took the official ASA water polo coaching qualifications and in 2020 I began to support the Friday “splashball” sessions which my son and daughter are thoroughly enjoying (and so the cycle begins!)
I was proud to become a Life Member of the club in 2014