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Australian Water Polo Origin Anniversaries


It has been a special week for origin anniversaries in water polo as we observed the anniversary of the oldest known men's and women's water polo matches in Victoria and Australia, which occurred in 1879 and 1886 respectively.

If those years look familiar, it may be because you've spotted them on the back of our state team bathers which our athletes have proudly donned since 2018.

You may be surprised to learn that the discovery of these records was only relatively recent, with the men's match being uncovered in 2013 and the women's match in 2016. The 1879 date has since been acknowledged by Water Polo Australia who commemorated 140 years of Water Polo in Australia last year.

There is also evidence that the person who introduced the sport to Australia, Fred Cavill, may have invented the original version of water polo! You can read our Case for Cavill article here.

February 26 (1886)

First Known Women's Water Polo Match in Australia

Last Wednesday marked the 134th anniversary of the first known women's water polo match in Victoria and Australia. It was played in Ballarat as part of the 'Ladies Swimming Matches' that were organised by the Ballarat Swimming Club. The game was played and refereed entirely by women and girls and would be a regular feature of the carnival for several years.

Ballarat was not new to water polo by that stage, having established the first water polo club in Australia in 1879 shortly after Fred Cavill had toured there.

1 March (1879)

First Known Water Polo Match in Australia

Sunday marked the 141st anniversary of the first known water polo match in Australia. It was played in St Kilda at Hegarty's Sea Baths (now St Kilda Sea Baths). This is also the first known water polo matched to be played outside of the UK.

The sport was introduced by Fred Cavill (pictured above) as part of his aquatic exhibitions. He toured Victoria, NSW and South Australia and eventually settled in Sydney, establishing the foundations of the Sydney water polo scene.

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