Eastern Province

The iconic pyramid and lighthouse in the Donkin Reserve in Port Elizabeth.

 Aquatic sports are very popular in the Eastern Province. It has a long coastline with many beautiful beaches and tidal pools, suitable for swimming. The Eastern Province used to extend from Mossel Bay in the west, to Grahamstown and the Border province to the east. The northern border was the Orange river and the Orange Free State lay beyond that.

As the Cape colony grew and cattle farmers migrated eastwards along the coast, new districts were created at Graaf Reinett in 1789 and Uitenhage, founded in 1804.

Port Elizabeth was founded when the 1820 British Settlers arrived, and it grew to become the first commercial centre of the Cape Colony. It was also the venue for the first South African swimming championships and Currie Cup water polo tournament held in 1900.

The settlers created villages at Grahamstown, King William's Town, Somerset East and other locations, where they set up English schools. Later some of these, like King Willaim's Town became part of the Border province.

Today some of those schools are well-endowed private schools, while most state school struggle to survive as in the face of declining funding and the changing demographics of the pupils and staff. 

 The Eastern Province Amateur Swimming Association (EPASA) dates from 1898. Although not a major force in South African aquatic sports, the province has produced a number of champions. Today Port Elizabeth is a major international venue for triathlons

Port Elizabeth

Organised aquatic sports arrived here with the British in the 1820's. The first South African national championships were held here in 1900, at the height of the Boer War, and the South African Amateur Swimming Union was founded here in 1899.


Situated in the Swartkops river, Uitenhage benefitted from a municipal swimming pool and a swimming club, both established in 1898. 


Grahamstown town had a number of well funded private schools, but the area has an average summer temperature of 20 degrees - down to 5 degrees in the winter. Without an heated (indoor) swimming pool the area was always going to struggle to excel in aquatic sports.


Mosselbaai (or Mosselbay) sent a team to the South African swimming championships in 1920, and today forms a vibrant part of competitive swimming in the region. 


The historic town of George is the centre of commerce in the South Western Districts (SWD), and has a number schools that particiapte in aquatic sports.  Besides swimming and water polo, biathlon is also a popular aquatic sport.

Smaller centres

Besides the towns listed above, there are many smaller towns where aquatic sports history has been made in the Eastern Province.