A Brief History of Water Polo by Cory Olcott

Water polo has its origins in 19th-century Scotland, where swimming coach and innovator William Wilson developed a game for the water that combined elements from rugby, soccer, and American football. The sport (originally called “aquatic football”) grew in popularity and gained official recognition from the Swimming Association of Great Britain in 1885.

Women did not begin playing water polo until the early 20th century. The first recorded game took place in Holland and sparked mild interest from women around the world. By 1926, however, many considered the game too rough for women to play, and national competitions in the United States were put on hold for decades.

In 1961, attitudes started to change. A women’s swim coach in Michigan revived interest in the sport and before long it rose again to prominence. Despite its rejuvenation in the 1960s, women’s water polo was not included as an Olympic event until 2000. In the 2012 summer Olympics, the American women’s team took the gold medal in water polo.

About Cory Olcott:

A coach and advocate of women’s water polo, Cory Olcott founded the women’s water polo program at Stanford University in 1995 and went on to coach the team to national recognition. Olcott has also coached water polo at the high school level. He recently completed a Master of Education at Harvard University.

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The Advantages of Educating with Technology

By Cory Olcott

While the incorporation of new technologies in the classroom causes much debate, using such technologies has garnered notable results in engaging students. Studies by the Department of Education indicate that transforming learning into an active process, rather than passively receiving knowledge through lectures, results in an increased rate of information absorption, decreased disruptive classroom behavior, and improved student participation and performance.

In utilizing computer-based education techniques, benefits generally result from two advantages over traditional lectures. The first aspect, instant rewards, gives students immediate feedback on their performance, providing satisfaction at each achievement. The second, memory anchoring, refers to the process of connecting new information to existing information, or creating a memorable association to enhance retention. Game-based learning, for example, offers visual stimuli and narrative structure to anchor educational lessons.

About the Author: Cory Olcott possesses over a decade of experience in education, designing innovative curricula, and program evaluation.

Water Polo Rules by Cory Olcott

As we head into the London Games, a number of people have asked me to explain the sport of water polo. Most people have heard of water polo, but not everyone knows the rules of how the sport is played. In this two-part series, you will get a basic understanding of the game.

There are regulations governing how large the pool should be. Most courses are 25 meters x 20 meters, except at the international level where the men play in pools sized 30 meters x 20 meters. Minimum depth should be no less than two meters to prevent players from using the bottom of the pool. However, many teams, especially in high school, do not have regulation pools and play in nonstandard courses. Each team has seven players: one goalie and six field players. For international play, the home team typically wears white caps, the visiting team wears dark, and the goalkeepers wear red.

The game begins with a “sprint” in which the referee drops the ball at mid-pool and players swim from their own goal lines to the ball to try and control it. Only the field players can cross the mid-pool line; goalies must stay on their respective sides. Teams score points by throwing the ball across the goal line on the opposite end of the pool. The pool also features a 2-meter line, an off-sides line which the offensive player may not cross unless he or she has the ball, and a 5-meter line, outside of which a player may immediately shoot on goal if fouled.

Read the next segment in this series to learn more about fouls.

About the author: Cory Olcott is a former Head of the English Department at Woodside Priory School and water polo coach at Stanford. He recently graduated from Harvard University and has relocated to Lexington, Massachusetts.