First Olympic Appearance: 1900
by John Gettings and Mark Zurlo
Although it looks a lot like a waterlogged version of soccer for your hands, the sport's history owes more to the game of rugby. Created by resort owners in England in the mid-1800s, the sport's brutal beginnings in the rivers and lakes of the U.K. were tamed by rule changes by the end of the century, causing its popularity to soar.
Although men's water polo has the distinction of being the first team sport added to the Olympics and has been a part of every Summer Games since 1900, women's water polo made its first appearance in 2000.
The game's rules and strategy for men and women are very similar to those of soccer. Here are some interesting exceptions:
The game is played in four periods and if the teams are tied, two extra periods are played. If the score remains tied after that, they play a third, sudden-death extra period with no time limit.
The temporary Water Polo Arena in London is the first dedicated water polo venue in any Olympics. It flaunts a reyclable inflatable roof, a 37m competition pool, training pool, and capacity for 5,000 spectators.