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Aquatic Sports History of southern Africa

The history of swimming and related sports in South Africa, Rhodesia, and South West Africa from 1900 to 2000 and beyond. 

The British Empire established a base in the Cape Colony in 1806, to keep Napoleon at bay and to control the Far East trade routes around Africa. The transplanted British colonists imported their culture and norms, including a love for water sports, encouraged locally by the hot Cape summer weather. Sports clubs were established for water polo, swimming, diving and lifesaving activities.

Water festivals held in the Cape Town dry dock were popular entertainment for the Victorians. They also swam and played in rivers and dams and oceans, and built tidal pools and indoor swimming pools. Betting also played a big part in promoting sporting events. When Charteris Hooper became the first man to swim from Robben Island in 1909, he did it to win a bet.

The South African Amateur Swimming Union, with the Western Province and Eastern Province as its founder members, was established in Port Elizabeth, during the Boer War. After the war, the Swimming Union expanded to all parts of the country and Rhodesia. 

The youngest person to break senior world record

On the 10th of August, 1965, Karen Muir became  the youngest world record holder any time in any sport when she set a new world record in the women's 110-yard backstroke.

At 12 years, 10 months, and 25 days old, swimming in the junior section of the British Swimming Championships in Blackpool, England - because she was too young to compete with the older girls in the open category!

The girl from Kimberley in the Cape had only been swimming for three years, under the guidance of an imported British coach named Frank Gray.


The various categories of Champions: World record-holders; Olympic, World, or Commonwealth medalists, International stars, Paralympic champions and those who chose to stay  - the Local Heroes, while many went into exile to compete abroad.  

Aquatic Sports

The history of swimming-related recreational and competitive water sports in southern Africa.

Water festivals included swimming, diving, water polo matches and "fancy swimming", while lifesaving competitions ensured the competence of those responsible for preventing drownings. Swimming-based multisports, like triathlons, are related modern aquatic sports.

South African National Championships

The first championship held by the SAASU was held at Port Elizabeth in 1900. The main event was a water polo competition between Western Province and Eastern Province. The prize was one of the trophies donated by Sir Donald Currie for 

Swimmers from South Africa.


























1996 Marianne Kriel

Barabara Nash 19202

Butcher Patricia 1980

Carina Bruwer 01

Carmen Cutout

Charlene Wittstock 1

Charlene Wittstock 2

Charlene Wittstock 3

Cilliers Elsa WP



Germishuis Dickie Muir

Germishuis Katinka

Germishuis Katinka 01

Germishuis Katinka 02 1972

Germishuis Katinka 02

Germishuis Sonia

Germushuys And Jackson

Goodman Carmel 02

Goodman Carmel Tvl 01

Goodman Carmel Tvl 02 1971

Goodman Carmel

Grey Sandi 02

Grey Sandie 03

Gunther Ena Paarl 1950

Harrison Joan 01

Harrison Joan 02

Harrison Joan D Petzer And F Loveday 1954

Heynes Penny 10

Heynes Penny 11

Heyns Penny 5

Heyns Penny 3

James Sally Dec 1963 1

Jansen Suzette N Tvl

Jenny Maakal 01

Joan Harrison

Jutzen Irene

Karen Muir 1967

Karen Muir

Karen 1979 WP Champs Newlands

Karin Fritch

Kemp Avril

Keri Anne Payne 2

Keri Anne Payne 3

Kinkaid Smith P Tvl

Kirsten Nickie WP

Knox Laura 1

Knox Laura N Tvl

Knox Laura

Koegelberg Carol EP

Kraan Geertjie

Kramer Margot 1969

Kramer Margot 1970

Kruger Marienne Wits

Lamont Napier Jameson

Lamont Moira Tvl And Van Helden Karen WP

Lassie Rosemary Uast 1959

Laura Ranwell 1960

Lipman Susan Tvl

Lludorf And Hughes 5 March 1967

Loftus Tessa

Loveday Felicity N Tvl 1954

Ludick Jackie N Tvl

Ludick Jackie

Ludorf Diane Tvl 1966

Ludorf Diane

Lupnow Kim EP

Maakal Jennie

Maakal Jenny 1932

Marias B WP U Karger West Germany Feb 1965

Muir Karen And Marion Lay UK 1967

Muir Karen Gw

Muir Karen

Natalie Gaskin

N Tvl Jackie Ludick Annatjie Van Heerden Katinka Germishuis Sonja Germishuisen

N Tvl Jackie Ludick Annatjie Van Heerden

Palmer Toni Tvl 1981

Rozowsky Loren

Sue Dickie

Tricia Butcher

Van Helden Karen

Vos Walden Van Helden

1980 Anton V Niekerk

Andre Kotze

Anne Lamont And Paul Napier Jameson

Anton Van Niekerk Kapstad 1980

Anton Van Niekerk

Aubrey Burer Practicing Relay Link Ups 1956

Brian Elliot And EP Relay Team

Butch Hristiansen


Chad Le Clos

Craig Lindeque Tvl 1981

Cromary Stuart

Dave Mc Carney

Dougie Eager And Anton Van Niekerk

Erwin Kratz 5

Freestyle Relay 1932

Gilfilian E 27 Nov 1974

Gordfey 11912

Gordfey 1912

Gray Allen Nov 1972

Gray Allen WP 1

Gray Nickie 02

Gray Nickie

Gray Simon 01

Gruhn F Union

Grylls Geoff EP Jan 1964

Grylls Geoff EP Dec 1964

Grylls Geoff Ep Nov 1964

Grylls Geoff Nov 1964

Honeyman Neil And Burger Gilmour WP Natonals 1953 JHB

Hugh Tucker

Inglis P Eter WP 1

Inglis Peter WP

Ivor Gordon

Jan Germishuisen April 1966

Janks Tom 01

Janks Tom

Jannie Horn


Johnston Donald Right And Les Klenerman

Johnston Graham Nov 1949

Johnston Graham OFS Feb 1952

Johnston Graham 02

Johnston Graham 1952

Jonathan Crowther

Jonty Skinner 01

Jonty Skinner 2

Jonty Skinner 2003

Katz Adrian WP

Katz Anton WP

Kaz Adrian WP 1

Keyter John Rhod Vernon Slovin Rod Hamilton 1969 100 Fly

Keytor Seddon 1988

Keytor Seddon WP 1

Kilian L Defence Swim Champs 1973

Kim Campbell

Klenerman Les Tvl And Peter Duncan Feb 1951

Klenerman Les Tvl 1948

Kloppers F 1965

Klugman Steve WP 1

Klugman Steve WP 1980

Kotze Andre EP

Koyd 1

Koyd 2

Kratz Erwin 1983

Kratz Erwin

Kratz Jankelow Scheepers Cromarty 1982

Kritzinger Mickie Tvl 1985

Kropp Robert WP

Kropp Robert 1983

Kuiper Owen 1974

Lacey Tudor 1961

Lacey Tudor 1964

Lacey Tudor 1966

Le Roux E 1953

Le Roux Peter

Levy Derek WP 2

Levy Derek WP 1976

Levy Derek WP

Lewis David Andre Stadler WP 1984

Lewis David WP 1

Lewis David WP

Lith H

Loubscher Anton WP 1984

Louw Butch 1970

Louw D Sellenbosch 1974

Lyndon Ferns 2

Lyndon Ferns

Lyne Cliffie Natal

Mally Richards

Nick Reen Andrew Dean George Smullian

Paul Blackbeard 5

Paul Blackbeard Esme Oosthuisen Steve Nathan

Paul Blackbeardl Natal 1975

Peter Bales Channel Swimer

Peter Williams

Pugh Lewis

Quiren Kohler

Realyathens 02

Reen Jon And Geoff Grylls EP 1966

Relayathens 01

Relayathens 03

Relayathens 04

Richard Maybery SA Schools

Roy Clegg

Ryk Neethling

Scheepers And Mark Edge EP 1977

Scheepers Kobus 1980

Second Bennie Retief And Erwin Kratz

Springbok All Americans 1950 S And 1960 S

Springboks 1979

Stuart Cromarty

Stuert Bill A Nthony Briscoe Four Girls Who Came Third In Olympic Rlay Hillbrow Pool Johannesburg 1956

Terence Parkin 1

Terence Parkin 2

Townsend Darian

Van Der Bergh

Waterman Frank

Wooding Graham Nickie Kirsten Penny Mc Clurg WP 1985

Pools and other Places

Locations where people swim. The dams, rivers, oceans, tidal pools, swimming pools - school pools, municipal pools, club pools, dead pools and all the other places where aquatic sports history is made.

Click the arrow on the left to set 10 different categories of pools and places.

Click the square on the right to view the full size map.