• Home
  • 1929 English Women

1929 - British Women Swimmers 

In January 1929 four swimmers from England toured South Africa. They were Joyce Cooper (London), Vera Tanner (Eastbourne), Edith Mayne (Torquay), Ellen King (Edinburgh). They were familiar with the South African swimmers, having competed against them at the 1928 Olympic Games. 

In the end Vera Tanner was to return, and marry a Grahamstown local. She was a teacher at St Andrews College from 1929 - 1939. 

 L-r. Joyce Cooper, Ellen King, Cissie Stewart (?), Iris Tanner
Briths team at the 1928 Olympic Games, before their trip to South Africa the following year. L-r. Joyce Cooper, Ellen King, Cissie Stewart, Vera Tanner

14 January 1929


 4 February 1929.

The British swimmers tour to South Africa had an interesting corollary. Vera Tanner had met George Murrell in Amsterdam at the Olympic Games, where he was attached to the South African team. He was 12 years older than Vera. By the time the trip to South Africa was over, she and George were engaged to be married, which event took place on 26th April 1930. They had a daughter Julia in 1934, but the marriage did not last and ended in divorce in 1939. 

Vera became a teacher at St Andrews in Grahamstown from 1929 - 1939. Her husband was also a teacher at the school, since the end of WW1. She is remembered as a 'legend' at the prep school.


She left South Africa in 1939, going to Hong Kong, where she was caught up in the war and spent time in a POW camp. Read more about her in this blog.