Barceloneta, the birthplace of water polo

Barceloneta beach has witnessed some truly historic events. Among others, the birth of water polo at the national level. The first water polo match ever played in Spain happened on July 12, 1908, and the referee of the game was Bernat Picornell. It took place in the sea, in front of the current swimming clubs of the neighbourhood.

In the beginning water polo was played in the sea. Its practitioners were swimming enthusiasts and people related to the sea: fishermen, sailors and harbour regulars. In 1911 Nicaea water polo Club arrived in the city, whose coach Paul Vasseur stayed for an extended period in Barcelona to pass on some of his knowledge to local players. He is considered to be the first coach. In 1912 the first Spanish water polo championship took place, and the CN Barcelona team were proclaimed champions, with the following team members: Marcel, Fabregat, Granicher, Rabé, Knotech, Cadrada y Aysa.

The first Spanish championships were played exclusively by Catalan teams. In 1914 the first non-Catalan club joined the league: CN Athletic de Bilbao. From then on, water polo began to spread to other zones, with the emergence of new teams and the organization of tournaments. But in Spain, water polo was born and grew on our beaches in Barceloneta. The first national team made its debut at the Antwerp Games in 1920. To make it happen, it was necessary to set up the Spanish Amateur Swimming Federation. The coach of both, the swimming and water polo teams was the Swede Berglund.

In preparation for the Olympic Games, the players met the American team, and, for the first time, they saw crawl-style swim. That was the first surprise. The tournament paired them with the experienced English team. This prompted the need to create a competitive team capable of competing against the other countries. It led to the creation of the CN Barcelona swimming pool in 1922, and later the Montjuïc swimming pool in 1929. These pools were key to the progress of water polo, organizing new events and matches, not only at the national level but also with international teams. However, in 1928, despite the attempts to promote water polo at that time, the Spanish Olympic Committee decided not to send the national team due to lack of budget, so it was the CN Barcelona that financed the Spanish team’s trip to the Olympic Games.

In 1912 the first Spanish Championship took place.