The New York Athletic Club (NYAC) is one of the pioneers in the United States when Water polo was just starting to grow on the other side of the Atlantic. When the majority of people start reading this article they have no idea of the true origin of the sport. Some historians place it in Scotland towards the middle or the end of the nineteenth century.
Water Polo was very popular around the world la belle epoque “Happy” years in the 1920’s. There were no common rules until all the federations were globally aligned. We could say that Water Polo in the United States was distinguished by it being stronger and more aggressive. The New York Athletic Club emerged as a club with different disciplines such as track and field, fencing and other Olympic type sports, one of them being Water Polo. In 1915 NYAC modeled its’ game after the English, making it less brutish and more tactical, emphasizing swimming more.
The system that was being used for the Olympic Games then is very different from what is currently being used. Back then the best club team would represent their country instead of making teams from their best players. In America, NYAC was unstoppable. One of the most memorable moments was when they claimed gold in front of a large American crowd in St Louis, 1906. Based on American sources, we have to mention that there were only American teams participating. But you cannot deny that NYAC represented their countrymen with star players like no other country.
After the depression of 1933, Water Polo started disappearing from the American fans. It continued to be that way until the 1950’s but in 1958 it returned very strong like never before with NYAC.
In 1960, the American Olympic committee changed the roll for NYAC, from that point on, an appointed person (coach) was the person who will select the players to form the national team to represent the country.
Merrill Moses, Josh Samuels, John Mann, Tony Azevedo, Jesse Smith and Alex Bowen and many more excellent players have been part of the national team and also part of NYAC.
When you talk about American Water Polo, you talk about NYAC today. After one hundred years of starting their program, it is more lively than ever winning many national championships and displaying a huge showcase of medals and trophies.