William Wilson

1844 - 1912

Invented the sport of water polo. Born in London, of Scottish parents, Wilson was raised in Glasgow where he was appointed the first Bathsmaster at the Arlington Baths Club. In 1877, while working there, he devised a game which he called 'aquatic football'. His rules were later formalised and the game renamed water polo. He was the first to analyse human movement through the water and published The Swimming Instructor (1883), which introduced the modern concepts of stroke efficiency and training in swimming, together with the racing start, racing turns and water safety. Wilson went on to research life-saving techniques and popularised these through press articles. His methods are now universally recognised and adopted. In appreciation of his services in the promotion of life-saving, Wilson was elected the first Life Governor of the Royal Life Saving Society.

Wilson lies buried in Cathcart Cemetery. He was elected to the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2003.

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