Mike Coles

Bob Holman

Regional President 2019/2020

Mike Coles has spent a lifetime in aquatics, from teaching swimming and water polo, to running the Bristol & West Water Polo League, as well as taking on the secretary ship of Swim England South West Region’s Water Polo Technical Committee, development officer for water polo in the South West and looking after and co-ordinating the water polo officials.

Born and bred in Weston-Super-Mare, so Somerset through and through, Mike, aged four years, was introduced to swimming by his father, former Weston-Super-Mare Swimming Club Captain and Life Member, Doug Coles, and Mike always jokes that the biggest problem was getting out of the sack.

He went on to represent Weston-Super-Mare Swimming Club at competitive swimming and diving. Then he discovered the dark art of water polo, and there was no stopping him. That was in 1968.

At the age of 14 Mike was representing Weston’s senior team in what was then the National Water Polo League, and the games then were played on a home and away basis, so it was nothing for him to disappear off with the senior team and travel to London midweek, play the game and return in time for school the next day.

School didn’t mind as he also represented them at both swimming, diving and water polo.

He was also representing the county side of Somerset at both junior and senior level.

Having never been able to sit on his hands, he went on to Weston’s club committee in 1978, and then became the water polo secretary in 1980. He became qualified as an STA Swimming Teacher and started teaching swimming for the club, and then helped his father running the technical college’s adult swimming lessons once a week.

In 1984 he became the secretary of the Bristol and West Water Polo League, and in 1986 became chairman of Weston-super-Mare Swimming Club, and later took over the coaching of the Ladies Water Polo Team for the club, and moved on to coaching the county side, and then, a few years later took over as chief coach and secretary of Somerset and the Weston club.

In 1995 he was appointed to the old Western Counties Water Polo Committee, and took over the role of Development Officer for the region. He was also appointed to represent Division 3 of the National Water Polo League, and then was asked to go on to the ASA’s Water Polo Technical Committee, becoming responsible for national competitions across England by the start of the millennium, and he continued with this role up to 2008. He was also invited to referee in the National Water Polo League, and travelled the country to their competitions, and he continues in this role to present.

In 2000 he gained his Level 2 Water Polo Teacher’s certificate at the newly evolved ASA National Academy, held at Millfield School, and in 2001 returned to the academy enrolled in the national elite coaches’ programme to find future international coaches. He continued with the academy for three more years, both as a coach and then as a team manager.

 In 2007, he and his wife who was also an active official for the National Water Polo League, as well as club, county and region, took the leap to international level after being asked to officiate at the 2007 European Water Polo Tournament being held in Manchester.

In 2008 he stepped down from all roles due to the ill-health of his wife, who suffered a heart attack, plus the disappointment of being blocked to becoming chairman of the ASA’s water polo section.

In 2009, with his wife well on the road to recover, Mike started to get back into harness, and he was made chairman of newly-formed ASA South West Region’s Water Polo Technical meeting, and served two years. He has continued to represent Somerset all that time.

In 2015 he was made President of Somerset ASA, travelling the county and region on their behalf, to many competitions and prize-giving events.

2017 saw Mike become secretary of the regional committee, following its reformation after the resignation of the then secretary. He also took back the mantle of development officer for the south west, as well as its officials co-ordinator, then in 2018, he was invited to join the Regional Board as President Elect, a position he has taken up.

Mike is a Life Member of Weston Swimming Club, and still coaches water polo and helps out, on occasions, with the Learn to Swim programme. Both of his boys, Sean and Liam, play water polo, and Joy still officiates at table, saying it’s the only way she can see Mike. They are looking forward to their grandchildren, Alfie and Stephanie also following on the aquatic theme, both are already having swimming lessons…

And just in case you think Mike doesn’t see enough of water he has now become a swimming teacher at Brean Splash as his daytime job and as re-qualified as a Swim England Level 2 Swimming Teacher.

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