June 16 - Britain's male water polo team will no longer train together for the London 2012 Olympics because of funding cuts and British Swimming has decided to concentrate on the women's squad.
They meet as a team for international competitions but overall development will follow a system similar to the national football and rugby teams where their day-to-day training and performance is undertaken with a club environment.
Water polo had been identified by UK Sport as one of eight Olympic and four Paralympic sports whose funding was affected by a £50million shortfall in private sector money.
In January the sport learnt of its funding figure - £1.45 million over four years - this equates to a 75 per cent reduction or £4 million from the provisional budget water polo would have received had the full funding been in place.
British Swimming chief executive David Sparkes is spearheading a drive to secure further investment for water polo as it continues to develop for 2012 but feels the strategy now in place can deliver two Olympic teams.
He said: "It was clearly a major disappointment that we didn’t get the funding level we had budgeted for but we have to be positive to achieve our goals.
"To that aim we’ve reassessed our priorities in continuing to maintain both teams at the Olympic Games.
"The present level of funding will be tilted towards the women’s team but we have been working on a number of innovative solutions to continue to develop the men’s team and these are now being implemented.
"A lot of good work has gone in to defining our new direction and we’re fortunate to have been offered incredible help from the likes of Hungary, Croatia, Romania and Australia to help the men to prepare for the Olympics."
While the women’s programme will remain in place at the High Performance Centre in Manchester throughout, phase one of the process leading to 2012 will see the men’s team stay in Manchester until September as they prepare for the LEN European Trophy in Switzerland.
Phase two of the programme will commence in October this year and will see the end of a centralised programme with some players based overseas in club programmes and those having to remain in Britain for employment or education reasons training within the national league set up.
The third and final phase from April 2010 to 2012 will see Britain’s men based entirely overseas with professional clubs, coming together as a national team for competition and camps.
Britain won the gold medal in four of the first five Olympic Games between 1896 and 1920 but have not participated in the Games since Melbourne in 1956.
Britain has lost two coaches in the last two years, including Nick Hume, who resigned in March because he claimed the funding cuts made his job too difficult.
But Sparkes feels very positive as to the eventual outcome and believes the system will also have long-term benefits for all levels of the sport.
He said: "Strategically this is an opportunity for us to raise the standard of water polo from club to national level and get many more people playing the game,” added Sparkes.
"This whole situation has made us look closely at what we do while giving us a new direction and impetus as we move forward.
"Out of adversity has come a real step change in the sport and by 2013 we could completely rejuvenate and revolutionise water polo in Britain.
"We will be building stronger, sustainable water polo clubs with professional coaches, centred around a new super league focused on delivering athletes capable of competing at international level.
"We’re also set to deliver a range of initiatives to take mini water polo into schools."
Sparkes also remains optimistic of attracting additional support for water polo as the teams continue their development for 2012.
He said: "We would welcome working with people who have played or enjoyed water polo who now feel they can make a contribution to this exciting future, either through a financial contribution or by providing their expertise.
"We’re asking to engage with that community at the earliest opportunity.
"We have received valuable support from commercial partner British Gas and from The Friends of Water Polo but we hope to further increase help for our athletes and programmes through other avenues."
The women's team will continue their development at the LEN European Nations Trophy next month in Manchester when they host some of Europe’s leading teams from July 7 to 11.