Local water polo player, Robert Pryke, wins university scholarship

A Team Ipswich player is aiming to make a splash in British Waterpolo’s top-flight after securing a much-coveted, 18-month water polo scholarship at the University of Gloucestershire.

Robert Pryke, 20, is a prolific goalscorer for his university and has also been on the scoresheet for Cheltenham, who play in Division One of the National League.

The former Stowupland High School pupil hopes his scholarship, which has seen him receive a bursary and will also allow him extra time to develop his strength and conditioning, will help his quest to secure a regular place with the West Country team.

Pryke, from Battisford, is one of only a handful of students to have won a scholarship and he will be expected to act as an ambassador for the university – promoting the campus – while continuing to study for his Geography degree, which comes to an end this summer.

“I was ecstatic and I did not expect to win a scholarship,” said Pryke, whose father Chris was a British record holder in the 200 metres breast stroke.

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“The scholarship will give me more time to train and the university wants me to put my sport a bit ahead of my academic studies.

“By doing that I will be able to work on my strength and conditioning which is a very important part of water polo and my aim is to try and cement a first team spot at Cheltenham.

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“There are 13 players in a team but only seven in the water at any one time and a lot of those players are internationals.

“I think I am good enough but because I go back to Ipswich quite a bit I am not always there for training, but I have played a few times for the team and scored a few goals.”

Pryke finished fourth in the British Universities’ goalscoring list in 2009/10 and currently has eight goals in three matches this term.

“I owe Team Ipswich a massive amount of gratitude as that is where I started,” said Pryke.

“I began under coach, Dick Bloomfield at the start and I first played for the senior team when I was 14 or 15.

“That toughened me up for the standard I am playing at now.”

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