Water polo has been part of the Olympic program since the second Olympic Games in 1900. Women’s water polo was introduced at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
The sport began in England and has evolved significantly over the years. The ‘American’ style of water polo was like the old rugby style of play, which has been described as American football played in the water. The original games were based more on strength than skill, resulting in rather aggressive play resulting in injuries.
The most famous Olympic water polo match in history took place during the 1956 Games, often referred to as the Blood in the Water match. The match between the Soviet Union and Hungary was bloody and violent, and eventually called off, with Hungary being declared the winner. Hungary has the most medals in Olympic water polo history.
The United States is the only non-European team to win Olympic medals in the sport. The women’s water polo team has proven to be a top contender. From 2012 to 2020, the U.S. women’s team won three consecutive gold medals, becoming the first women’s water polo team with an Olympic winning streak.