The Army Water Polo Team grew out of West Point’s first swim team, which formed in the 1920-21 academic year. The new swim team had a perfect record in its first season—defeating “four of the strongest swimming teams in the East.” A civilian coach, Mr. Alexander Meffert, was reputed to be “the best swimming coach in the country,” and the team lauded the “untiring work of Capt. Pendleton.” Captain Alan Pendleton (University of Pennsylvania, Class of 1916) was an instructor in the Department of Law.
The following year, the Swim Team article in the 1922 Howitzer included a report on a newly formed Water Polo team, also coached by Meffert and Pendleton.
“When the call for water polo candidates was issued at the beginning of the season, it was evident that the building of a team must begin at rock bottom. A few men had seen the game played, and two or three had even participated. But the men were willing to drown learning if need be, the swimming squad itself contributed a number of men, and within a short time Capt. Pendleton and Coach Meffert were busy whipping the water polo squad into shape and forming the nucleus of a team. Submerging was made a painless process, and long before the first outside game was scheduled teams were selected and had mastered the fundamentals of the game.”
The very first game was played against the “veteran team” of the New York Athletic Club (NYAC), and the sport remains one of the longest-running competitive sports clubs at West Point. In the 1975-76 academic year the program became a Division I “corps squad” varsity sport, concluding its first season with a 13-5 record. In the 1994-95 year the program returned to club status. Full story.