South African aquatic champions 1900 - 1960


In 1912 George 'Looper' Godfrey became the first Springbok swimmer when he competed at the Helsinki Olympic Games, without medal success. The first Olympic medal was won by South Africans was the women's 4x100m freestyle relay at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam. Oonagh Whitsitt win the one ever international medal in diving competition at the Empire Games in 1930, while Jennie Maakal won bronze at the 1932 Olympic Games. 

In 1952 Joan Harrison wins the first South African Olympic swimming gold medal , and women won another relay medal at Melbourne in 1956. The era ends with Laura Ranwell setting an Olympic record at Rome in 1960

1928 Amsterdam Olympic Games

The bronze medal winning Springbok women's relay team of Kathleen Russell, Freddie van der Goes, Marie Bedford and Rhoda Rennie.

Jenny Maakal

Jenny Genoveva Maakal competed in the 1932 Summer Olympics where she won a bronze medal in the 400 m freestyle event and was sixth in the 100m freestyle.

Joan Harrison

A native of East London, attending Clarendon High School for Girls, she swam at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, winning a gold medal in the women's 100 m backstroke.

1956 Melbourne Olympic Games

The South African women's team of Moira Abernethy, Natalie Myburgh, Susan Roberts and Jeanette Myburgh won bronze in the 4 x 110yds freestyle relay.

Laura Ranwell


In the 1960 Rome Olympic Games women's 100m backstroke Laura set an Olympic record in her heat, and in the final she finished with an equal time as the bronze medallist, although placed 4th.