Orange Free State

Swimmers in the Kovsie Aquatics Open Water race at the Maselspoort Resort.

The main centres of the Orange Free State Province were Bloemfontein, Kroonstad and Welkom. with other towns like Sasolburg, Kroonstad, Bethlehem and Welkom all producing excellent swimmers. International coach Cecil Colwin was known for his swimming camps held in the Bethlehem town pool.

Sasolburg is a significant swimming town with a heated 50m outdoor pool. It is also located in the Orange Free State, although it was incorporated into the swimming province known as the Vaal Triangle, with van der Bijl Park and Vereeniging, which are located across the Vaal river in the Transvaal.  

Competitive swimming was also practised in the smaller towns, but many of the municipal and school pools become dead pools. (click on the Dead Pools layer in the map).  Smaller centres included the Maselspoort and Parys resorts and many towns with a dorp swembad. 

Aquatic sports have thrived in the Orange Free State since the area was first invaded by the British and became a colony in 1902. The excellent schools like Eunice GHSA, Grey College and St Andrews all contribute a steady stream of national champions. The university has also participated in the national inter-varsity championships.

The Free State has a produced many national and some international champion swimmers. These include the Johnson brothers Donald and Graham, Jannie and Pietie Horn, Dougie Eager, Janine Steenkamp, the Markgraaf sisters, and Ryk Neethling.

Well known recent Free State swimming coaches included Simon Gray, Santa van Jaarsveld and Syd Gibbons. 


The capital and only major city in the former Orange River Colony, Bloemfontein has excellent schools and a university that compete in aquatic sports.


Kroonstad has a municipal pool in Morêwag (above) and a dead pool at the Correctional Services training college. It is home to a number of schools with a strong aquatic sports tradition, including life saving and biathlon. They include the  Hoërskool Kroonstad, the Afrikaanse Hoërskool and the Sentrale Volkskool. 



The 50m heated outdoor pool has been the venue for the South African winter swimming championships since the 1972. In 2003 it was renamed the Penny Heyns pool. It has been to home of the Sasolburg Swemklub since the 1960's.

While the town is located in the Orange Free State, it became part the new Vaal Triangle swimming province in the 1970's. Today it is part of the Northern Free State.

Helene Muller was a pupil of  the Hoërskool Sasolburg when she won her Springbok colours in 1993. 

Smaller centres

There are numerous smaller towns where swimming history was made, which has unfortunately mostly been forgotten and remains to be re-discovered. The derelict Klerksdorp town pool (above) was once a favourite for international swimming galas.