Portuguese Africa

The Portuguese colonists in Angola and Mozambique first settled there in the late 1400's. They created farms, trading posts, and built mines and railways - many of which developed into towns. These were remote settlements, and administrators created attractive facilities to lure colonists to settle there, which usually included swimming pools and other sports facilities. In the larger towns and cities schools and private sports clubs often also had their own swimming pools.

Overlooking Polana beach with the Naval Club in the background.

Angolan swimmer Antonio Alves was the first colonial swimmer to compete in the Portuguese national championships, in 1954 winning both 100m and 200m freestyle titles. In 1958 thirteen swimmers from Mozambique competed in Portugal. More and more good swimmers came from Mozambique, even dominating Portuguese swimming and winning the national provincial title - the Portugal Cup in 1970.

Many South African and Rhodesian tourists also undertook the long journey to the Mozambique beaches. The Grande Hotel in Beira was a luxury hotel that was intended to provide luxury accommodation for VIPS, business travelers, and tourists from Southern Rhodesia, the Union of South Africa, and Portugal or its colonies. The hotel boasted an Olympic-sized swimming pool.  

Today most of these colonial-era facilities no longer exist, although their ruins are often visible. Today some, like the pool at Manica on the Beira road, are being restored, perhaps to once again attract tourists. 


The tropical climate of Mozambique made swimming a popular activity throughout the country. Town swimming pools, often boasting 10m diving boards, were a common sight. Sporting clubs like the Grupo de Sportiva and dos Velhos Colonos in Lourenço Marques and Ferroviario da Beira organised local and national galas.

The pool at the Grupo Desportivo sports club in Lourenço Marques was built in 1949.


The Clube Desportivo Nun’Alvares was founded on February 28, 1924. 

Restoration of the historic 33 m swimming pool at Nun'Álvares, transforming it into two tanks, one with 6x18m for learning and the other with 25x18 for training, leisure and official competitions in a 25m pool.