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No one was more knowledgeable regarding water polo than James “Jimmy” R. Smith. It is therefore proper that Jimmy should have produced and edited The World Encyclopedia of Water Polo, the first book of its kind to be published. He completed this assignment in an outstanding manner. His book, Playing and Coaching Water Polo, published in 1936 and revised in 1948, was the first complete textbook on the sport in the world.
A native of Oakland, California, Jimmy devoted most of his life to the interests of water polo and swimming, both as a competitor and as a coach of long standing. Mr. Smith’s distinguished career began at the University of Southern California where, as a student, he earned his B.S. in Business (1928) and his M.S. in Education (1935). Over the 30 years that he was Athletic Director and Coach at Fullerton College and Fullerton High School, his water polo and swim teams won 164 team championships, including 5 national titles, 5 AAU titles, and 6 state crowns.
In 1942, he went on active duty in the US Naval Reserve. After receiving his commission, he became a designated Naval Parachutist and served as a Navy test parachutist for 19 years. He rose to the rank of Captain and was named Commanding Officer of the US Naval Aerospace Recovery Facility. He was coach of the Untied States Water Polo Team for the 1955 Pan-American Games and the Armed Forces Team Coach for the United States Olympic Team trials in 1956. In addition, he served as Assistant Athletic Director of Aquatics at Stanford University where he was Freshman Water Polo Coach, Assistant Varsity Swim Coach, taught in the Physical Education Department, and was certified as a NAUI Scuba Diving Instructor.
Mr. Smith has many honors to his credit. He was a member of the Board of Governors of United States Water Polo, Inc.; the American Olympic Water Polo Committee in 1948 and 1952; and Past Chairman of the Southern California and State Junior College Water Polo and Swimming Committees. In 1971, he received the College Swimming Coaches Association of America Forty Year Award; In 1976, he was elected to the United States Water Polo Hall of Fame; in 1984 he received a life membership in United States Water Polo, Inc.; and in 1985, he was awarded the Peter Ueberoth Award for his contributions to water polo.