History of Waterpolo There is a little documentation to the origins of waterpolo. However, it is known that the term "polo" is the English prononciation of the Indian word "pulu", meaning ball. Just as the game played on horseback became known as "polo", the game played in water became known as "waterpolo", although there is no connection between the two sports. The game began as a form of rugby football played in rivers and lakes with the object to "carry" the ball to the opponent's side. By 1869, an Indian rubber ball began replacing the original ball which was made from a pig's stomach. One year later, the London Swimming Club developed rules for football to be played in swimming pools. The first official game was played in the Crystal Palace Plunge in London. The early games were generally exhibitions of brute strength. Passing, punting and dribbling were scarcely ever practiced. Each player considered it his duty to score goals without regard to position. A favorite trick of the players was to place the 5-9 inch ball inside their swimming suit and dive under the murky water, then appear again as near the goal as possible. Should the player come up near the goal, he was promptly jumped on by the goalie, who was permitted to stand on the pool deck. The introduction of new swim strokes sped up the game. The game moved from a rugby-style to a soccer-style of play. The goal became a cage of 10 feet by 3 feet and a goal could be scored by being thrown. The small ball was changed to a soccer ball. Players could only be tackled if they held the ball and could only touch the ball with one hand at a time. In the late 1880's these rules were adopted throughout Great Britain. Waterpolo spread to Hungary, Belgium, Austria, Germany and France. The game was included in the Olympic Games of 1900 as an exhibition at the Paris Games. In Switzerland the game began in the year of 1917. The first play of the Swiss National Team was Switzerland - Germany (2:1!) in Arosa August, 6th 1922!
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