water polo

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water polo,

swimming game encompassing features of soccer, football, basketball, and hockey. The object of the game is to maneuver, by head, feet, or hand, a leather-covered ball 27 to 28 in. (about 70 cm) in circumference into net-enclosed goals at opposite ends of a pool 19 to 30 yd (17.37 to 27.43 m) long and at most 20 yd (18.29 m) wide. The two competing teams consist of seven players each, one of whom is the goalie. Only one hand may be used to advance the ball, which must be carried on the surface. Rough defensive techniques permitted include ducking, i.e., holding a player underwater.

Water polo was devised in England in the 1870s and became popular in the United States in the early 20th cent. It is played mainly by club teams, although it is also popular in collegiate competition. Water polo has been an men's Olympic event since 1900; women's water polo was first played at the games in 2000. A far rougher version of the game, played with a soft rubber ball in a larger pool and known as American or softball water polo, was formerly popular in the United States. However, its extreme violence brought it into disfavor, and today only the international or hardball game is played throughout the world.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Water Polo


a team sport involving a ball on water. It is played by two teams of seven people each on a rectangular water court measuring 30 m long, 20 m wide, and 2 m deep; the goals, measuring 3 m wide and located 0.9 m above the level of the water, are positioned midway at each end of the court. The object of the game is to get the ball into the opponent’s goal while not allowing it into your own goal. Water polo is based on the ability of the participants to swim and control a ball well, as well as on teamwork.

Water polo appeared in Great Britain at the end of the 19th century and quickly spread throughout the world. In 1900 water polo was included in the Olympic games, and the champions of these have been Great Britain (1900, 1908, 1912, 1920), the USA (1904), France (1924), Germany (1928), Hungary (1932, 1936, 1952, 1956, 1964), Italy (1948, 1960), and Yugoslavia (1968). In Russia people began playing water polo in 1908. USSR championships have been held since 1925. Soviet water polo teams have been participating in the Olympics since 1952, winning a silver medal twice (1960 in Rome and 1968 in Mexico); in 1966 and 1970 they were European champions (in 1970 also junior champions). The USSR student teams won the 1970 World University Games. The following USSR teams are frequent champions in water polo: Dynamo (Moscow), Central Water Sports Club of the Navy (previously the Central House of the Red Army and Central Sports Club of the Army), and Torpedo (Moscow State University). Well-known Soviet water polo players include V. Podzhukevich, A. Kistiakovskii, B. Goikhman, E. Semenov, P. Mshvenieradze, V. Semenov, and L. Osipov. Since 1948, Soviet water polo teams have been members of the International Amateur Swimming Federation, which organizes international swimming, diving, and water polo competitions and unites sportsmen of more than 100 coun-tries.


Vodnoe polo: Uchebnoe posobie dlia trenerov. Moscow, 1963.
Gil’d, A. P., B. A. Goikhman, and F. M. Talyshev. Trenirovka vaterpolista. Moscow, 1966.
Shteller, I. P. Nastuplenietaktika pobedy. Moscow, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

water polo

a game played in water by two teams of seven swimmers in which each side tries to throw or propel an inflated ball into the opponents' goal
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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