Swimming towns of southern Africa


The Karen Muir Municipal Swimming Pool in Kimberley is named in honour of the town's most famous swimmer.


The places where aquatic sports thrived in South Africa, Rhodesia and South West Africa. Some have excllent swimming schools, which are found here.

Success in aquatic sports requires suitable facilities. Municipalities and schools built and maintained the facilities, and coaching was done by any willing coach.

Some town have beautiful lido-style sprawling Olympic swimming pools, while others were built before metric length pools became standard. 

For various reasons numerous municipal swimming pools have now become derelict. Click HERE to see many of them indicated by black dots.

Prosperity, skilled engineers, the weather and the availability of water in a town all play a part in the creation and ongoing maintenance of swimming pools. 

Skillful coaches for aquatic sports are generally uncommon in southern Africa, particularly in the platteland towns, where the role of coach was/is usually carried by a enthusiastic school teacher. Sports was usually important in the generally well-run schools found all over the country, although different schools focused on different sports. 

South Africa was created in 1910 out of two culturally and physically diverse spaces. Two British colonies with long coastlines - the Cape and Natal - were combined with the two inland Afrikaner Republics - the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. 

In Rhodesia the best resourced schools were often created and run by religious orders. Mozambique was largely run by private companies, who built towns - with swimming pools with diving boards - for their European employees.

Aquatic sports enjoy different levels of popularity in these very different spaces. Public and school aquatic sports facilities are also markedly different in each space. Many facilities did not survive under local management after independence.

Municipal swimmimg pool in Gondola, eastern Mozambique.