Originated in mid 19th Century England
Derived from rugby (aquatic version)
London Swimming Association developed rules for
indoor swimming pools in 1870, in hopes of attracting
The early games were very brutal and were really
nothing more than underwater wresting matches.
The goal was to touch the ball with both hands at the
goal end of the pool. Similar to a touchdown in football.
The Scots are said to have tamed the sport.
In 1877 they added goal posts. Goal became a
10x3 foot cage.
Replaced the small rubber ball with a soccer ball.
Introduced rules that prohibited taking the ball
underwater or tackling a player unless he had the
This style spread throughout Europe in the
Introduced to the USA in 1888 by John
Robinson, an English swimming instructor.
Resembled American football in water.
Became very popular in the 1890’s.
Violence was the games main attraction.
Due to pool sizes and conditions, the American
version became even more violent than early
Resembles an early African rite of passage into manhood played
First team sport added to the Olympics in 1900.
Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) took over as the national
governing body for water polo in 1906.
AAU dropped water polo after a brawl erupted at the 1912
national championships in Chicago.
After agreeing to AAU regulations in 1914, water polo was once
again an AAU event.
James R. Smith of the U.S. invents a ball specifically for water
polo in the 1930’s. Became the sports official ball in the 1956
During the 1920’s in the U.S., physical educators
decided that the game was to rough for women.
It was revived in the late 1950’s by Rose Mary Dawson,
a women's coach in Michigan.
The AAU conducted a women’s championship in 1961.
An international women's championship has been
conducted by the Fédération Internationale de Natation
Amateur (FINA) as part of the World Aquatic Games
Add as an Olympic event at the 2000 games.