Although very little information remains on the record, it seems that waterskiing could have originated in Sweden, given that the term vatternskida, a verb meaning to ski on a body of water, can be found in Swedish dictionaries dating back to 1921. But, officially, the sport's origins are anchored was invented in 1922 when Ralph Samuelson used a pair of boards as skis and a clothesline as a tow rope on Lake Pepin, Minnesota. With brother Ben he spent 15 years performing shows and teaching water skiing to people in the US. although Ralph never patented his invention, he is recognized as the father of the water sport, and the American Water Ski Association (AWSA) credited him in 1966 as the first on record to attempt the sport.
The first patent for water skis was issued to Fred Waller, of Huntington, NY, in 1925, for skis he developed independently and marketed as Dolphin Akwa-Skees. In 1928 Don Ibsen developed his own water skis on the West Coast, never having heard of Samuelson or Waller. In North America and Europe, the sport increased in popularity throughout the 1930s. In 1939 the AWSA was organized, and the first Water Ski Championships were held on Long Island in the same year. Don Ibsen founded the Olympic Water Ski Club in 1941, in Seattle, WA, the first such club in the US. The International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IWWF) was founded in Geneva, in 1946. The first World Water Ski Championship was held in France in 1949.