Host City: Helsinki, Finland
Date Started: July 25, 1952
Date Finished: August 2, 1952
Participants: 191 (191 men and 0 women) from 21 countries
Youngest Participant: György Kárpáti (17 years, 33 days)
Oldest Participant: Erik Holm (40 years, 201 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 33 athletes with 1 medal
Most Medals (Country): 3 countries with 1 medal
The 1952 water polo tournament was held at the Helsinki Swimming Stadium, which was also the site of the swimming and diving events, but not the swimming section of the modern pentathlon, as that sport was held in Hämeenlinna, which is 100 km north of Helsinki.
There were 21 teams entered in 1952 water polo which made for an unusual format. All 21 teams entered a double elimination preliminary tournament, with teams losing both games eliminated from further competition. In the first round there were 10 matches with 10 teams advancing to group play, along with Argentina advancing, which drew a bye. The losers of the first preliminary round played off in five matches, with the five winners advancing to group play, and the other unlucky losers out of the tournament.
The tournament proper consisted of 16 teams in four round-robin groups of four teams each, with the top two teams in each group advancing to a semi-final round, although results from the preliminary round were carried over. The semi-finals consisted of two groups of four teams each, held in round-robin format, with results from both rounds of group play carried over. The top two teams in each semi-final group advanced to a medal round, contested as a round-robin, with results carried over from the semi-finals, while the 3rd- and 4th-placed teams in the semi-finals contested a classification round-robin group for places 5-8.