Swimming races in swimming pools have been governed by the rules of the international governing body known as the “Fédération Internationale de Natation” (FINA)
, which was founded in London July 19, 1908 which South Africa joined in 1909. Before that the rules of the English Amateur Swimming Association (ASA)
had been followed.
FINA defined the recognised strokes and distances, and kept the official World Records
Since the early days of the Queens Park club in Durban (1893), the PE Amateur Club (1898) and other clubs from Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, South Africans have engaged in swimming races, and by 1909 SAASU had joined FINA.The earliest venues are shown on the Pools and Places article.The races were originally designed to amuse the audience, according to the English aquatic carnival tradition, including under water races, obstacle events. After the creation of SAASU and affiliation with FINA, the events became standardized. In southern Africa swimmers from Rhodesia, South West Africa and even Mozambique participated in local galas.