was a late 19th-century British journalist, swimming instructor and coach, and contributor to the scientific techniques behind competitive swimming. In 1883, Wilson published "The Swimming Instructor," one of the first books on swimming to define modern concepts of stroke efficiency, training, racing turns and water safety.
Contributions to swimming
- Described and illustrated the racing start and turn.
- Improved the mechanics of several strokes.
- Developed the first life-saving drill.
- Pioneered training methods, both dry-land and in the water, including tapering.
- First newspaper journalist for the sport of swimming.
- Innovator in indoor swimming pool design.
In 1877, Wilson drew up a set of rules for a team water ball game, which he called "aquatic football". The first game took place between the banks of the River Dee
The River Dee is a river in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It rises in the Cairngorms and flows through Strathdee to reach the North Sea at Aberdeen...
at the Bon Accord Festival in Aberdeen, Scotland. Flags were placed eight or ten feet apart on the shore and players used a soft ball of Indian rubber, called a pulu
. The game was a wrestling match from end to end of the field of play, but was popular with the spectators of the aquatic festivals of the era. Wilson had developed the sport while Baths Master at the Arlington Baths Club
The Arlington Baths Club is a nineteenth century baths in Glasgow, Scotland. It was not formed as a "Swimming Club" in the meaning today and the oldest swimming club in England, and therefore probably in the UK is Brighton Swimming Club formed in 1860...
In 1885 the Swimming Association of Great Britain, recognized the game, now called water polo
Water polo is a team water sport. The playing team consists of six field players and one goalkeeper. The winner of the game is the team that scores more goals. Game play involves swimming, treading water , players passing the ball while being defended by opponents, and scoring by throwing into a...
, and formulated a set of rules expanding on Wilson's rulebook. These eventually became the basis of FINA international rules, as the sport spread to Europe, America and Australia.
In 1891, Wilson published a number of illustrated newspaper articles on lifesaving drills, and awarded prizes to local swimming clubs for proficiency in life saving techniques. Wilson's methods circulated in the form of a handbook, and in recognition of his contribution, he was elected the first Life Governor of the Royal Lifesaving Society