Coach Owen Kuiper with Springbok Tricia Butcher, Rory Callahan and Keith Whitfiled (front)
Started swimming at primary school - my mother coached our school into a very successful team. In 1965 my first bit of success came as a 12-year-old when I was selected for a Northern Transvaal Age Group Team which went to Kimberley. All I remember was meeting Karen Muir who lived next door to the family I was billeted out to.
I never took swimming really seriously in the early years - just trained at school. In Std. 6 at Pretoria Boys High School, Oubaas Braak and I became good friends and he motivated me to go to NTvl School Trials and did his best to get me to swim seriously. For the next 3 years just swam at school, making the N Tvl High Schools team each year, as well as, the SA Schools Team in 1967.
Oubaas eventually got me to train with Bob Cambell in 1969 and joined a squad of exceptional swimmers like Brian Stewart, Nico van der Merwe, Harold Pearce, Pieter van Niekerk, Katinka Germishuis and had up and coming stars like Laura Knox, Jackie Ludick, Elaine Mc Donald and Oubaas Braak training with us. I qualified for my first nationals in Cape Town in 1969 where I watched one of the best races ever seen between Vernon Slovin and John Kater in the 200 Fly. Swam at the SA Games in Bloemfontein where I did well on a national senior for the first time.
Got a few 2nd and 3rd places at Currie Cup (Nationals) in the 100 and 200 Backstroke from 1970 to 74 but never won a title - mainly due to the fact that I could never beat Lee Mc Gregor! Placed 2nd in the 200 backstroke at the South African Games in Pretoria in 1973. Was selected for SA University Team 1973 and 74.
I swam at Southern Illinois University on a full scholarship in 71/72 - first, meet against Gary Hall and Mike Stamm from Indiana - both world record holders at times.
Started coaching in Pretoria in 1975 when my coach, Bob Cambell gave up his squad to join Pretoria University. Spent 5 years there having a blast with the swimmers and learning about coaching as I went along from great coaches such as Zwi Katabi, Moira Lamont, Kobie Louw, Ron Borrill, Santa van Jaarsveld, Clara Aurick, Tom Fraenkel, Frank Grey, Al Hatfield, and Peter Elliott.
My last serious coaching position was at the University of Pretoria, where I worked as a lecturer in the Phys Ed Department and as a Sports Officer and Head Coach of the Tuks Swim Team. I started the TUKs Swimming Club in 1984 which for the first time included students as well as a junior section. They're a very strong team of swimmers such as Springbok swimmers like Dorothea Neumeister, Jaco Kruger and Kevin Richards joined stars like Fofo van der Merwe, the Grant sister, Francois Viljoen, and juniors like Leezan Senekal, Marena Loubser, and many others to form a formidable side. Was selected as SA University Team Coach. My Assistant Coach at that time was Linda de Jager who is doing so well as Head Coach of the club at present.
I was selected as National Swimming Coach for the 1986/87 season and was sent by SAASU to the World Champs in Berlin - without any swimmers.
Although I stopped serious coaching, I remained actively involved in the school teams where I have taught - the last 21 years as Headmaster at 5 different Crawford Schools.
Retired in 2017 - now live in Scottburgh where I have become involved with coaching the Nippers and Lifesavers at Scottburgh Surf Lifesaving Club - A sport I think is the greatest for kids. I still train as often as possible in the pool, tidal pool or in the ocean.
Hot on the heels of Crawfordian Cameron van der Burgh's success at London 2012, MD of Crawford-Schools, Jaco Lotz, announced that Crawford La Lucia will be the first campus to host a Swimming School of Excellence.
"Crawford is synonymous with Academic Excellence, but have also made huge inroads in Sport in both KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng," he said. "Our schools compete successfully at the highest level of many sports, most notably, swimming and we believe a swimming programme will not only benefit our current students, but also bolster our efforts to become the top swimming schools in the country,"
The man selected to run the programme is Owen Kuyper, Principal of Crawford Preparatory La Lucia, who has come through the ranks as an excellent swimmer, coach and administrator. The programme will be available to all students on campus with Pre-Primary and Preparatory pupils participating in a Learn to Swim Programme. A Fitness for Life Campaign will be offered to Preparatory and College students that do not wish to swim competitively. A comprehensive competitive swimming programme will be offered. This programme will be extended to other aquatic programmes in the future.
Crawford La Lucia already boasts one of the finest 50m, 10 lane swimming pools in the country as well as a shallower pool, which is used for water readiness. A 25m heated swimming pool (completed in June 2012) will be used largely for the Learn to Swim Programme but will also be used for training during the winter months.
“To build the programme, we have invited one of the best swimming coaches in the country, Alistair Hatfield, to be our Head Coach” said Kuyper. “His club, Action Swimming Academy, will make Craw- ford La Lucia their base. The strong club already includes Head Coach Alistair, who uses the Kings Park pool, and Assistant Coach Clifford Lyons. Another of Alistair’s Assistant Coaches, Carol du Toit, and South African Open Water Swimming Champion, Chad Ho, will coach the Crawford Prep and College Swimming Teams, as well as run the club programme at the La Lucia pools. Julia Louter, who is well qualified and experienced, has been appointed to Co-ordinate the extensive Learn to Swim Programme.”
The school, through the aquatics programme, plans to attract good swimmers, who are also serious about their academic performance. “We will cater for the academic, training and competition needs of swimmers from Grade 4 to 12 and will also offer financial assistance, though Crawford College Bursaries." Kuyper added.