When Nathaniel Lafferty won the annual Sheffield & District Swimming Gala Water Babies Cup earlier this month, he kept up something of a family tradition.
Nathaniel, at just four years, nine months and one day old, was the youngest child to swim 25 metres of the Ponds Forge International Sports Centre’s pool.
And in doing so, he followed in the footsteps of two of his aunties, who also won the trophy back in the late 1970s!
Nathaniel’s auntie Frances, who went on to become an England junior in water polo and now lives in Detriot, won the competition in 1977.
Two years later it was the turn of Catherine, who won the award at the same age!
The family’s success in the water didn’t end there, though.
Nathaniel’s father Jimmy played international water polo when he was younger, whilst his uncle, Ben, was a 400-metre individual medley finalist at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.
“Ben and I first started swimming because our parents were just trying to stop us fighting,” Jimmy told Grass Roots.
“It has gone from there, really, and the whole family is now very much swimming orientated.
“Nate has been swimming for the last year: he’s very keen, and we encourage him to swim. He was surprisingly very calm about it beforehand and he was the youngest by a fair way, but it only took him around a minute to complete the 25 metres.”
Nathaniel’s older brother Leo, who is only six years old, is also a budding swimmer.
But why did Leo not join the family roll of honour on the Water Babies Cup?
“We didn’t realise it was on, so it was bad parenting on our side!” Jimmy laughed.
“They both swim together three times a week and hopefully they will both stay with swimming.”
Jimmy, who hung up his trunks a year ago, now hopes that his two sons will follow his lead and take up water polo.
“Unlike my brother and I, Leo and Nate don’t fight,” Jimmy said, “but they have so much energy and just love swimming.
“We will be working on different strokes with him for the foreseeable future, but it would be great if they get into water polo.”