George Wilkinson, a prolific goal scorer with a variety of shots, is generally recognized as the world’s first great water polo player. In 1899 he was only playing in the Division III of the Manchester league, but the following year he was recruited by the famous Manchester Osborne Swim Club. He is traditionally listed as competing on the 1900 Olympic team, but this is most likely not the case. After being on the winning Manchester team for the 1901 ASA championships, Wilkinson moved to Hyde Seal SC in 1902. He captained the Hyde team for 22 years, leading them to nine ASA titles and a victory over Brussels in the “World Championship” at Paris in 1904. Wilkinson won two Olympic gold medals, captained the winning team at the 1912 Olympics and was a reserve for the 1920 and 1924 Olympic teams. He won a total of 24 caps for England between 1900 and 1922, captaining the team on four occasions. Wilkinson had been an enthusiastic swimmer since boyhood and as a 17-year-old he finished third in the 1896 500 yards world championship race when, although he was beaten by Jack Tyres and John Henry “Rob” Derbyshire, he succeeded in pushing the redoubtable Jack Jarvis back into fourth place. Although he never won an ASA title, Wilkinson often placed well at the championships, finishing second in the 1000 yards in 1898 and the 220 yards in 1901. Like a number of notable sportsmen of this time, he became a publican and was the landlord at the Wheatsheaf Hotel in Hyde for many years.