Champions 1992 - today

With the end of the sports boycott in 1992, South African swimmers were again welcomed into international competition. It did not take them long to make an impact. While the 1992 Olympic Games did not produce any medals, Peter Williams did make a final in 50m freestyle, finishing 4th, and Marianne Kriel also made a B-Final.

By 1996 the situation had changed completely, with Penny Heyns  won two gold medals and set a string up new world records, as well as being voted the International Female Swimmer of the Year, and Marianne Kriel took bronze in the 100m backstroke. In 2004 the South African men shocked the swimming world by winning the 4x100m freestyle relay. And then came Chad le Clos. 


Penny Heyns

In March 1996 Penny Heyns re-established South Africa's reputation as an international swimming power when she broke her first world record, the 100 m breaststroke, at nationals in Durban. Later that year she also won both breaststroke events at the Atlanta Olympic Games. She was also voted Female swimmer of the Year for 1996 and 1999. She set a total of 14 world records before retiring in 2001.

Marianne Kriel

Coached by Clara Aurik in Cape town, Hoërskool Bellville schoolgirl and SMU graduate Marianne won the bronze medal in 100m backstroke at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.

Sarah Poewe

Before emigrating to Germany in 2002, Capetonian Sarah was coached by Karoly von Torros to two gold medals at the 2000 FINA World Championships. In 2004 she won a bronze medal at the Sydney Olympic Games, swimming in the medley relay and representing Germany.

Brendon Dedekind

A product of Pietermaritzburg College, Seals SC and Florida State University, Brendon was the first South African male swimmer to win an international medal - two silver medals at the 2000 FINA World Championships.

Terence Parkin

He won the silver medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics in the 200 metres breaststroke - the first South African male swimmer to win an Olympic medal. Terence is deaf, and uses strobe light signals to know when to start swimming.

Roland Schoeman


After failing to final at the 200 Olympic Games, Roland won a bronze at the 2001 World Championships in Japan -  an event his was to win at the 2005 championships in Montreal. He has broken three long course world records - including the 2004 Olympic 4x100m freestyle relay - and 6 short course world records.

Ryk Neethling

Coached by Simon Gray in Bloemfontein, Ryk swam the 1500 at the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996, and finished 5th in that event during the 2000 Sydney Games. At the Athens Olympic Games in 2004 however, he swam the last leg of the men's 4x100m freestyle relay, touching two seconds ahead of second placed swimmer Gary Hall of the USA - winning the race in a new world record time. His split of 47,99 was the fastest of any swimmer in the race.

Lyndon Ferns

With University of Arizona team mates Roland Schoeman, Darian Townsend and Ryk Neethling, Lyndon swam the second fastest split in the famous 2004 Athens freestyle relay. In 2018 he still held the 100m freestyle South African record of 47:79 set in 2009. 


Darian Townsend

Coming from Seals Swimming Club in Pietermaritzburg, where Wayne Ridden coached him, Darian also swam at the University of Arizona with the other relay members. By 2013 he was still training - he told Swimmingworld Magazine in 2013 - "I definitely think Rio 2016 is in the cards. That’s my long term goal."

Gerhard Zandberg

A 50m backstroke specialist, and another University of Pretoria-based home grown talent, Gerhard beat WR holders Tomas Rupprath and Liam Tankock to win the 50m backstroke in 24.98 at the 2007 FINA World Championships held in Melbourne, Australia. He also won the bronze in 2003, 2009, and 2011.

Kathryn Meeklim

On the final day of the 2009 FINA Arena World Cup in Singapore Kathryn tackled the women’s 400 m individual medley in a positive mood and was on a par with the world record pace until the freestyle, when she accelerated even more to smash the old record by 2,13 sec, clocking an impressive 4:22,88.

Cameron van der Burgh

Cameron is South Africa's first home-trained world record holder, training at the University of Pretoria High Performance Unit. He also became the first South African male to win an Olympic Gld medal when he finished first  in the 100m breaststroke at the London Olympic Games in 2012. At the 2013 FINA World Championships he took gold in the 50 breaststroke.

Chad Ho

Ho made history at the 2009 FINA World Championships in Rome, becoming the first South African to win a medal in the five-kilometre open water swim, taking bronze.

Natalie du Toit  - MBE 

Du Toit has had a legendary career in the sport. On top of having an incredible 13 gold medals from three Paralympic Games, she's also the first amputee to ever qualify for the Olympics. In 2008, she finished 16th in the world in the 10K open water swim.

William Diering

In 2008 William set a new South African record (2:06.85) to earn a bronze medal at the 9th FINA World Short Course Championships in Manchester. Later that year he also finished twelfth in the 200 m breaststroke at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Suzaan van Biljon

Suzaan is a breaststroke swimmer from the Otters club in Bloemfontein. Suzaan won bronze in the 200m breastroke at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, and in 2008 she won gold and bronze medals at the FINA world championships in Manchester, having already won a second place silver medal at the 2006 FINA world championships in Shanghai. 


Johannes 'George' du Rand

Another champion coached by Simon Gray in Bloemfontein, George smashed the 200 metres backstroke short course world record at the FINA Swimming World Cup leg in Moscow, Russia on 7 November 2009. He also won a silver in the 200 backstroke at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Chad le Clos

Chad is a product of the Seals SC run by coach Graham Hill in Durban. After winning two gold medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, Chad astonished the swimming world by beating the great Michael Phelps to take the 200m butterfly title at the 2012 London Olympic Games. At the 2013 FINA World Championships he became the second man - after Phelps - to win the 100/200m butterfly double.

Guilio Zorzi

The Pretoria Boys High graduate took the bronze behind Cameron van der Burgh in the 50m breaststroke at the 2013 FINA World Championships.