In the words of Tauranga Water Polo's head coach Lionel Randall, it was "a phenomenal achievement."

The club's under-16 boys team took out the Pan Pacific Championship title in Auckland this week after beating the country's water polo powerhouse North Harbour 7-6 in the final.

In a field of 29 teams, including Australian state teams and the national A and B squads from South Africa, Tauranga were unbeaten during their eight-match schedule.

Randall, who came to Tauranga from South Africa this year as the club's full-time coaching director, says the perfect record was "a bit of a surprise."


What's more, two of the under-16 team - Louis Schuler and Theo Bos - were also in the Tauranga under-18 team which played that age group's Pan Pacific Championship at the same time.

That meant those two played 16 games during the two weeks of the tournament.

While the under-18s result didn't quite match that of their younger counterparts, they did finish third after losing their semifinal to North Harbour and beating Auckland Marist in the bronze medal match.

During pool play, Tauranga's under-18s beat Queensland, who eventually won the title after beating North Harbour in the final.

Louis Schuler, a student at Aquinas College and younger son of former All Black and Bay of Plenty Steamers rugby coach Kevin Schuler, was named the under-16 tournament's MVP.

While Randall supervises the club coaching structure, the under-16 team is coached by former Brazilian national team player Fernando Cianciarulo.

The key to the club's success in both age groups is, according to Randall, the emphasis on fitness and conditioning.

"We noticed that we were much fitter than other teams, more explosive and our conditioning was superior."

You can understand why that's so important because, while a water polo match might be officially four quarters of 8 minutes each, the clock stops regularly for fouls and substitutions so a game often lasts the best part of an hour.

Randall, whose programme is based at Mount Maunganui's Baywave, noted ruefully that of the half dozen most successful teams at the tournaments, Tauranga is the only one without a full Olympic-sized pool.

"But I'm having some meetings on that. There are people here who are keen to build a bigger facility."

Four of the Tauranga under-18 team – Joseph Schuler (brother of Louis), Bae Fountain, Reuben Reynolds and Liam Moffat – are in the New Zealand under-18 team for the World Championships in Hungary next month.