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Articles by Dartes Swimmers Past and Present

Every now and again, someone pops up out of the deep end and writes an article for the website. Sometimes these are former Dartes swimmers with happy memories to share. Often they're current members with something special or interesting to shout about. Either way, if it's interesting and in some way connected to Dartes or Doncaster Swimming, we'll probably publish it.
Here's one of those articles.

The Stories behind the Headlines


A few months ago we heard about another star of Doncaster Water Polo with some news to share. As former Edlington Swimmers ourselves, both Andy and Dave have known Ben Pacey (Edl) for many years and had followed his promising Water Polo career with interest until it was cruelly cut short due to Leukaemia. Now, recovering from his treatment and a bone marrow transplant, Ben has been selected to represent GB at the World Transplant Games next year.

Although Ben was never a part of Dartes, as you're about to see, he was a key member of Doncaster Water Polo and Edlington ASC for many years so we thought his story might be of interest. We sent Coach Wallace, note book in hand, to interview his former team mate.

Date: 21 Dec 2008
Author: Ben Pacey

Interview with Coach Wallace

Can you give everyone a brief description of your swimming history, how you got involved in Water Polo and what level you've played at?

I owe my swimming ability mainly to my parents for paying for all the lessons I had as a youngster, and secondly to my swimming club, Edlington ASC. I trained at the club three times a week from the age of four right until the age of thirteen when I turned my hand to the game of water polo.

I began playing for Doncaster Juniors. Within a year and a half of playing I was selected to play for the North Eastern Counties [now NER] and to go to a water polo camp for the top 28 players in the country in my age. At 15 I was playing for Rotherham Metro Juniors as well as captaining Doncaster Juniors and Seniors to league wins. I was also selected to play for the Yorkshire under 18s.

At 16 I was selected to play for England where we won the 5 nations tournament between England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Switzerland for two years running. I was also selected to play for Great Britain where we competed against countries such as Slovenia, Slovakia and France.

At 17 I was playing at the very highest level in British water polo. I played in the 1st Division of the National Water Polo League for Rotherham Metro Senior Men who have won the Yorkshire cup for nine years running. I was also chosen to train with the under 20s Great Britain squad where I got the chance to go on tour to Barcelona and play some of the best junior club teams in the world.

After returning from Spain I was on a GB training week with the under 18 squad when, unbeknown to me, I began feeling the very early symptoms of Leukaemia! I had to retire from international water polo as the training load was simply too much for me.

I still played for Rotherham and Doncaster in local and National league games right up until the final week before I went into hospital for treatment. Since coming out of hospital I have played at local level for both Doncaster and Rotherham. I have also played National League games for Rotherham.

I am currently in my third year at the University of Bolton studying Sport and Exercise Science Bsc. As well as studying I swim for them and captain the university Water polo team. I am now also following a strict strength and conditioning program to prepare me for the World Transplant Games next year in Australia.

Where will you be competing?

The Sleeman Sports Complex Brisbane, Australia, throughout August 2009.

What competition is it?

The World Transplant Games 2009.
Competitors consist of people who have transplants such as: Heart, Lung, Kidney, Liver, Bone Marrow transplants.

Why were you picked, and how did they find you?

I was chosen to swim for Sheffield Hallamshire Hospital in the British transplant games two years prior to me having a bone marrow transplant. My consultant (Dr John Snowden) knew I was a keen water polo player but as there is no water polo in the games I chose to do swimming instead. The skills are easily transferable and I have been a swimmer since the very young age of 4, mainly at Edlington ASC.

I wasn't expecting anything to come from the games but as I competed against two other British transplant team swimmers in 50m backstroke and beat them both, the coach Sam Baxter quickly came over after the race and invited me to swim for the Great Britain Transplant Swimming Team next year in Australia.

It was some of the best news I'd received in a very long time so I grabbed at the once in a lifetime opportunity with both hands. The only downside is that I must raise around £2,000 to be able go to the games. The amount is so astronomical due the games being around the other side of the world!

Any advice for young swimmers that you would give?

I would tell any athlete (not just swimmers) to take every opportunity that comes your way, as you never know what can happen from one day to the next. If something does stand in your way, something good can always come of it.

Thanks Ben. Good luck next year, and everyone at Dartes wishes you all the best for the future.

Edlington ASC are also trying to help Ben raise the funds needed to join the UK Transplant Team at the World Games. Find out how you can help.