Saturday, February 9, 2008

1920: "Princess Matoika" on the road to Antwerp

Princess Matoika, was chartered to United States Mail Steam Ship Company in 1920. It was at this time that she was used by the USA Water Polo Olympic team headed for the 1920 Antwerp Olympics, who wrote of their experience onboard: "Unfortunately, because the players came from all over the country, practice was virtually impossible and the first time the team actually trained together was in a 12' by 9' swimming tank specially constructed on the deck of the Princess Matoika, the ship that was carrying the United States Olympic Team to Antwerp. This ship was the last-minute replacement for the USS Northern Pacific, an up-to-date, fast-moving passenger liner which had been damaged on her voyage to New York. The Princess Matoika was ancient, slow-moving, and far from ideal, but there were no other options for the Olympic Committee. The athletes learned of the change at the farewell meeting hours before embarking and were told to accept the difficulties "in the spirit of sportsmanship and of making the best of things."

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