On Tuesday night, 12 March, 2019, at Tunbridge Wells Sports Centre, Charlie Exall (25) and Mark Freed (59) of Sevenoaks Water Polo Team broke the world record for the most number of consecutive water polo passes by a pair. The previous record was 65 passes. Charlie and Mark smashed the record managing a total of 95 passes.
When asked what motivated the pair to undertake breaking the Guinness World Record’s record of Most Consecutive Water Polo Pass by a Pair, Mark Freed explained, “I was making a list of things I wanted to do before turning sixty. Breaking a world record was high on my list. Having played water polo for 40 years, the records in water polo seemed the most likely.”
After some research, the record of 65 consecutive passes by a pair sounded achievable. “Surely I can do that”, Mark said. Mark convinced a fellow water polo player, Danny Hanlon, to train and attempt the record with him. However, they had a small set-back when Danny was struck down with pneumonia and unable to train. After convincing new partner, Charlie Exall, training began in earnest and a date for the attempt was set.
On the day things didn’t go as smoothly as they would have liked. Nerves and pressure got to them and the first attempt ended with Mark dropping the ball after 20 passes. Second attempt and Mark did the same at 61, which was agonisingly close to the record.
On the third and final attempt Mark and Charlie were tired but didn’t give up. They decided to just concentrate on passing, stop counting and left that to the official judges. At the end of this attempt they had managed to smash the record by 30 passes, setting the new world record at 95. Relieved Mark ticked ‘break world record’ off his to-do list.
Afterwards Mark Freed said a big thank you to Charlie Exall, for attempting this crazy feat with him. It was a pleasure and experience that they will both never forget.
He also thanked his teammates at Sevenoaks Water Polo Club, Monson (Tunbridge Wells) for hosting the attempt, the two referees Dave Murphy and Clive Donaldson and cameraman Jon Mackenzie. Thanks also to Danny Hanlon, Mark’s original partner, who has made a full and good recovery and to Jonathan Exall for supporting and encouraging them on the night.
More than being an outstanding achievement by Mark and Charlie, this record attempt and success highlights that water polo is a sport to participate in, at any age. Mark, Charlie and Sevenoaks Water Polo Club hope that this world record achievement will increase interest, awareness and, ultimately, participation. They are hoping that this achievement will inspire and persuade more UK Swimming Clubs to truly embrace water polo as a way of keeping young people engaged in water-based sports. Water polo is a highly competitive sport that combines keen ball skills with the endurance and athleticism of swimming, but is a sport you can continue to compete in when your body is no longer able to compete in higher impact ones.
To find out more about water polo in Kent, email the Kent Water Polo Manager, Ben McDonald