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Fun Facts about Water Polo

Water polo is a sport played in the water with a ball. It has similarities to basketball and soccer, although players are in the pool. The sport combines speed and strength as well as teamwork and a high level of fitness – one outfield player can cover up to two miles in one game alone. 

water polo ball and net in the pool

Most Interesting Facts about Water Polo

These are some of the most interesting facts about water polo throughout the history of this sport.

  • The modern game originated as a form of rugby football played in rivers and lakes in England and Scotland with a ball constructed of Indian rubber. This “water rugby” came to be called “water polo” based on the English pronunciation of the Balti word for ball, pulu.
  • Men’s water polo at the Olympics was the first team sport introduced at the 1900 games, along with cricket, rugby, soccer, polo (with horses), rowing, and tug of war.
  • Women’s water polo became an Olympic sport at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games after political protests from the Australian women’s team.
  • Certain body types are more suited for particular positions, and left-handed players are especially coveted, allowing teams to launch 2-sided attacks.
  • Surf polo, a variation of water polo, is played on surfboards. First played on the beaches of Waikiki in Hawaii in the 1930s and 1940s, it is credited to Louis Kahanamoku, Duke Kahanamoku’s brother.
  • Canoe Polo or kayak polo is one of the eight disciplines of canoeing pursued in the UK, known simply as “polo” by its aficionados. Polo combines paddling and ball-handling skills with an exciting contact team game, where tactics and positional play are as important as the speed and fitness of the individual athletes. 
  • In 1999, the Peter J. Cutino Award was established by the San Francisco Olympic Club and is presented annually to the top American male and female collegiate water polo player.
  • Musician Sean Paul is a former member of Jamaica’s national water polo team.
  • Former major league baseball commissioner and US Olympic Committee chair Peter Ueberroth was a water polo player at San Jose State.

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  • Prince William of England was the captain of his collegiate water polo team at St Andrew’s University, Scotland.
  • Captain Jonathan Archer, a fictional character in the television series Star Trek: Enterprise, played water polo for Stanford University and competed in the 2134 North American Water Polo Regionals against Princeton University.