William Wilson was born in London on the 13th November 1844. His Parents moved back to Glasgow when William was only a child.  Wilson became a Swimmer, a swimming instructor and the sports first newspaper journalist.

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Wilson had many ‘firsts’: He was the first to describe and illustrate the racing start and turn; the first in literature to advocate an over arm recovery for the side-stroke; he came up with the first life saving drill as well as the game of water polo; and he pioneered training methods both on land and in water. With the early stages of swimming pools, he promoted year-round, cold-water swimming in the sea.

William Wilson 87 water polo

In 1877, Wilson drew up the first set of rules for ‘aquatic football,’ which took place from bank to bank on the River Dee. There were no goal posts and the ball was played between two little flags placed ten feet apart. The game was a rough and tumble scramble. Wilson added goal posts and the game became known as “water polo.” Naturally, rules evolved over the years.

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In 1891, Wilson published a number of illustrated articles on lifesaving drills in the North British Daily Mail. He offered the drills to the Swimmers Lifesaving Society and they were printed and circulated in the form of a handbill. In recognition of his valuable services towards the promotion of lifesaving techniques, Wilson was elected the first Life Governor of the Lifesaving Society.

William Wilson died on the 1st June 1912

William Wilson Master Mason, The Thistle Lodge No.87

William Wilson 87 1 1873

Initiated 21st January 1873
Passed 18th February 1873
Raised 4th March 1873

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