ASTLEY'S Stephanie Whittaker has rounded off a tremendous 2018 by being named a Swim England National Award Talent Athlete of the Year for water polo.

A former pupil at St Ambrose Barlow primary and St Mary's High School, Whittaker learned the sport at Tyldesley before joining City of Manchester in 2013.

There her talents have blossomed over the last five years, progressing from the development team, captaining the North West regional team and then onwards to the national age group squads, winning the EU Nations gold medal in 2017 and 2018.

She is now in the senior GB squad and finished joint-top goal scorer for the U19 team at the recent European Championships held in Madeira with nine goals from the team’s six matches.

At club level she helped The City of Manchester Water Polo Club win the British Championships this year.

She said: “It feels amazing and I feel really honoured that I got the award.

"I’ve put in so much training and effort to get here but I’m happy that I have done it.”

Whittaker is currently at University of Manchester studying Chemistry and represents the university in the BUCS water polo league as well as continuing to play for GB and her club.