Gary Albertyn

Gary won Springbok colours swimming for the Vaal Triangle, before moving to Pretoria. In 1992 he took up a scholarship swimming for the University of Nebraska. After returning to South Africa he continued to be involved with swimming, coaching at the Tuks High-Performance Centre, and competing in both Masters pool and open water events.

From The Official Newsletter of South African Masters Swimming - November 2014

Who is the real Gary Albertyn?

The Medalist digs behind the myth to find a legend.

When you ask Gary Albertyn’s colleagues at are those who knew him as an exceptionally talented swimmer, and there are those who now know him as a dependable number cruncher. The stories almost seem too good to be true. ‘Pure Gary,’ Rocco Meiring says with a chuckle. ‘That’s what we used to call Gary in his swimming days. He got the nickname because he was always such an upstanding guy. Or at least he appeared to be.’

Meiring, a long-time friend and colleague of Albertyn, looks around the room conspiratorially, his eyes speaking good-humoured jesting. ‘Don’t be fooled – ‘pure’ Gary has a dark side too. In his day the girls used to swoon over him. Who knows whether he yielded to temptation?’ Another chuckle escapes his mouth. ‘You can ask him about it, but he’s got a knack for being vague.’ The hpc to describe him, you’re sure to get a very positive picture of the man. Some call him diligent, others trustworthy. There I arrive at the Finance House of the hpc where I’m supposed to meet the man himself. I’m shown to his office by a secretary; he’ll be with me in just a second. I gaze around the room, noticing a picture of two kids on his desk, a signed and framed Manchester United shirt on the one wall, a white board covered confusedly with numbers and dates on another. Just as I start my psycho-analysis of the writing and choice of colour marker displayed on the board, Gary Albertyn steps through the door. He is a tall man, and his hand swallows mine when we greet. He invites me to sit down and call him by his first name. I do so, and the familiarity makes it difficult to pursue the line of questioning suggested by his friend. Instead I go opt for the route of history.

When did I start swimming?’ Gary muses and tries to recall when his life aquatic began. ‘I was in Standard three. My family had just moved to Alabama, America. One day we went out to a nearby recreational pool, and was noticed by Jonty Skinner, assistant coach at the University of Alabama swimming programme. From there on in swimming became a big focus in my life. ’During his high school career at Littleton Manor in Centurion, Gary kept honing his talent in the water. ‘After school I trained with veteran Springbok coach Kobie Louw while doing a degree in BCom Accounting at the Pukke’s Van der Bijl Park campus. And in 1991 I was awarded a scholarship to the University of Nebraska where I stayed for two years.’

I get the idea that had I not spoken to Rocco Meiring beforehand and learnt from him about the Gary’s many achievements, my subject’s modesty would have prevented a true account of his impact on South African swimming. At one point in his career, Gary held the record for the most national titles in South Africa, and in one year (1989) managed to pick up as many as 17 of these. He was both member of the Protea Team and the national master’s team, and also attained Springbok colours for biathlon.

Apart from the positive impact Gary’s individual success had on the South African swimming community, he has also been greatly influential in terms of development and coaching. In partnership with Rocco Meiring, Cobus van der Walt, Xilia Joyce and Professor Niek Grové, Gary contributed to the re-opening of the Tuks Swimming club in 1999, which since then has gone on to nurture and produce some of South Africa’s best swimmers.

But for the last four years, Gary’s present duties have had him swimming in numbers. Since 2005 he has been the hpc’s financial manager – the go-to-guy who keeps calm when everyone else panics at the sound of terms like ledgers and impaired financial abilities in mild cognitive impairment. Okay, maybe I just looked up these terms on the internet for dramatic effect, but the point is Gary Albertyn can keep calm under pressure. For the grand finale I get to ‘Gary and the girls.’ A massive smile spreads across his face and a light shade of pink flushes his cheeks. ‘You must always remember to take what Rocco says with a pinch of salt. He likes to exaggerate.’

As vague as his friend predicted he would be. I realise this and also that everything his colleagues mentioned about him is true. He is honest, warm, and a gentleman. He has made his mark on South African swimming and continues to be a big personality. For once, the stories surrounding a legend are true.

27 December 1992

24 January 1993

24 January 1993

14 February 1993

14 April 2019 - Gary Albertyn and Amica de Jager show off their medals after the pair claimed the men's and women's individual titles at the Jendamark BellBuoy Challenge in Port Elizabeth.