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Bombs away! Sheffield woman crowned World Water Bombing Champion

Published on by Alastair McCloskey (author), Matthew Gee (photographer)

Take off: A clown tries to gain vital momentum with his run up. Photo: Matt Gee.

Take off: A clown tries to gain vital momentum with his run up. Photo: Matt Gee.

The World Water Bombing Championships 2013, organised by cancer charity Macmillian, crowned its first female champion last night at Ponds Forge in Sheffield.

Charlotte Rowney, 20, cartwheeled her way into water bombing history by claiming the individual title of World Water Bombing Champion.

40 bombers, all in fancy dress, hurled themselves from the three-metre board into the inviting waters of the diving pool.

Their efforts were scored out of 10 by four judges. Marks were awarded for the biggest splash, showmanship and bravery (or sheer stupidity).

 

Reinventing the wheel: Champion Charlotte Rowney had never dived before and says she isn't a great swimmer. Photo: Matt Gee.

Reinventing the wheel: Champion Charlotte Rowney had never dived before and says she isn't a great swimmer. Photo: Matt Gee.

Only one hand: Charlotte missed the practice session but still managed two perfect bombs. Photo: Matt Gee.

Only one hand: Charlotte missed the practice session but still managed two perfect bombs. Photo: Matt Gee.

Charlotte, a biosciences student at the University of Nottingham, scored a perfect 40 in the main competition to join four other participants in a five-way bomb-off to decide who would be crowned the best water bomber in the world.

A repeat of her first dive, a cartwheel off the board that flowed into a classic bomb tuck, scored another flawless 40 and saw her claim the title by four points.

Winner! Charlotte Rowney plans to defend her title next year. Photo: Matt Gee.

Winner! Charlotte Rowney plans to defend her title next year. Photo: Matt Gee.

The world of water bombing had previously been male dominated. Men have won all eight championships since the inaugural competition in 2005.

World champion Charlotte, who was dressed as Daphne from Scooby Doo, said: “It feels amazing. My cousin got me to do it and I wasn’t too happy because I’ve never dived before and I’m not a good swimmer.”

“I definitely hope to come back and defend my title next year.”

Competitors also took part in a team event. Over four rounds the individual scores of bombers were added up to decide which team becomes World Water Bombing Champions.

As competitors arrived at the pool, the atmosphere was tense as teams of nuns, clowns and pirates sized each other up.

Chris Glover, 56, a wireless network engineer from Maidenhead, a member of RAF inspired Team Vulcan 558 said: “I’ve driven for 3 hours to be here. We’re all here to try to become world champions and get people wet. 

“If the judges have a cup of tea then I’m going to fill it!”

Teammate Paul Broomfield, 52, a software salesman from Oxford, said: “It would be great going into work and saying you are the world champion of something.”

While Stephen ‘Sparrow’ Wilson, 38, from the Software Pirates, a team put together by event sponsors eBECS, explained the strategy that went into picking their team: “We simply went around the office and asked who weighed the most!”

Competitors, who had to sign a disclaimer to take part, received a briefing beforehand on how to perform the perfect bomb. This was promptly forgotten by the majority of participants.

Can The Flash fly? Rolls Royce engineer Ben Smith, 20, finds out. Photo: Matt Gee.

Can The Flash fly? Rolls Royce engineer Ben Smith, 20, finds out. Photo: Matt Gee.

Leap of faith: A nun throws a Christ-like pose to impress the judges. Photo: Matt Gee.

Leap of faith: A nun throws a Christ-like pose to impress the judges. Photo: Matt Gee.

After three rounds of bombs, The PB Team, wearing back-to-front suits, were level on 116 points with the Village People-inspired returning champions MMA All-stars.

The final member of The PB Team could only manage 35 out of 40 to leave his team with a total of 151 and a nervous wait ahead of the MMA All-stars' final dive.

In a dramatic turn of events, Tom Wilson of the MMA All-stars had to step in for the fourth member of his team who had injured his neck in training. Tom, who had pulled of a faultless flailing bomb to score 40 in the first round, attempted to repeat his textbook effort.

With little regard for his body, he propelled himself off the board and rotated wildly through the air like the blades of a windmill blown away by a hurricane.

Geronimo! MMA All-stars' Tom Wilson went for the windmill approach. Photo: Matt Gee.

Geronimo! MMA All-stars' Tom Wilson went for the windmill approach. Photo: Matt Gee.

The judges were already nodding in agreement as he hit the water back first. They raised their scorecards and a total of 37 points meant the MMA All-stars retained their title by two points.

The PB Team held off the T-Birds of the Grease-inspired line-up of Totally Devoted to Water Bombing to take second place. The clowns from the Berry Bombers took home the prize for best fancy dress.

Aerial acrobatics from a member of The PB Team. Photo: Matt Gee.

Aerial acrobatics from a member of The PB Team. Photo: Matt Gee.

Splash down: Judges watch on as competitor hits the water. Photo: Matt Gee

Splash down: Judges watch on as competitor hits the water. Photo: Matt Gee

Rob Turner, fundraising manager for Macmillan in Sheffield and Chesterfield, said: “The event went fantastically well. The MMA All-stars retained their title for the second year running which is a massive achievement and I’m really happy for them.”

The event, inspired by a John Smiths advert which saw comedian Peter Kay dive-bomb into a pool during a diving competition, is in its ninth year. It raised £7,500 last year and organisers hope that this year will see the event breaking the £10,000 mark.

Rob, who took part in the event for the first time this year dressed as superhero Bananaman, added: “Everything is organised completely by Macmillan volunteers and so none of it would have happened without them. Every penny from this event is going to help us raise £2m to support cancer patients and their families in Sheffield and South Yorkshire. “

“People doing things like this is simply brilliant and we wouldn’t be here without them.”

Pub landlord Chris Berry, 53, from Chesterfield raised £600 with other members of his team, The Bombing Berrys. He explained why he got involved: “We’ve all had times when we’ve known someone in the care of Macmillan nurses and this is just a great way to say thank you and give something back.”

Alison Hill, part of the Old Taptonians team which raised £800, said: “I was never going to run a marathon so this was a great way to raise money!”

 

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