School swimming

1973 South African Schools swimming

The 1973 South African schools swimming team en route to Rhodesia, after the earlier trip to Angola was cancelled. With Irene de Kock, Linda Frances Adam, Jill Moores, Ansie Rietsma, Sonja Germishuis, Peter Storzner, Andy van der Spuy, Mike Fairall, Clifford Garrun, Dean Price, Jane Weir, Letchen Walden, Richard Maybery, Brett Davies and Manager Mr Boehmke with others..

 SA Schools tours were rare, and mostly took place during the 1970's and 80's.

Aquatic sports history at South African school level is mostly about swimming, with some diving, life saving and, more recently, water polo. While pupils trained and competed for their club, they also swam for their school at inter-schools galas. The schools swimming season culminated with the annual South African Schools Championships, which was also inter-provincial.

Unlike rugby and cricket, swimming has traditionally flourished outside the school environment. Professional coaches created private swimming squads and the amateur swimming clubs organized galas, under the auspices of the provincial governing bodies, who in turn were part of the South African Amateur Swimming Union (SAASU). There was a separte organization that manged inter-provincial schools competitons. 

The growing popularity of water polo has resulted in some schools fielding 10 or more teams, and building a second school pool to satisfy the demand. The sport is highly politicised as the team selection requiring quotas is mandated by the national governing body.

Diving has always been a part of the inter-schools championships, and a small number of girls schools field a synchronised swimming team. 

Still water Life saving was promoetd at some schools, with pupils completing the Royal Lifesaving Society Gold Medallion qualification. Competitons in lifesaving have increased considerably in years since the still water and surf lifesaving world championships have been combined. 

The South African state school system, once on par with any country in the world, is today ranked almost bottom in the OECD rankings. This situation has created an opportunity, and need, for school to become commercialsed, if they wish to survive and thrive. As a result schools have become big business in South Africa. Private-school companies like Curro are listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Private schools, and competant state schools, have built extravagant facilities and employ professional coaches to attract paying customers. The same has happened in the former Rhodesia - now Zimbabwe.  Website like SA Schools Sports cater for this market, publishing results and rankings for various schools sports.The port-1994 professionaliztion of sport in South Africa, and the commercialization of schools, has led to a huge improvement in school sports. 

Private and state schools have always contributed to the provincial schools teams for the annual national inter-schools championships. Each province has an inter-schools gala, from where teams are selected annually. In recent years schools swimming has been managed by Swim SA, and a national schools championship for ages 11-17 is held annually, which includes events for disabled swimmers. Click here to see the 2015 event program.

Our northern neighbours in Rhodesia also had a very active schools swimming scene, with teams competing in South Africa, and schools regularly touring there as well. Follow the link to see some of the many school teams and pools from Rhodesia - some still exist and thrive today. At times a national inter-provincial schools championships was held - at both Primary School and High School level. 

There is no record of contact with Portuguese Mozambique at this level.

In the past, many schools have held an annual school gala, which often included events from the provincial championships. Both Primary and High schools inter-provincial galas have been held at various times, and today a combined event is (sometimes) held. 

Various schools swimming teams have toured overseas - to England, Israel and Taiwan, with individual schools water polo teams also sending pupils to compete abroad. Most of the history related to these events are unrecorded.

The badge was the efforts of the late Johan Terblanche. of Transvaal Schools Primary School swimming who was on SA Schools Swimming committee. Johan was the first SA Schools Water Polo chairman as he and Jannie Storm of Natal; the SA Schools Swimming chairman were the driving force in starting SA Schools Water Polo. The emblem is a "waterbuck".

 SA Schools tours were rare, and mostly took place during the 1970's and 80's.

This was the Natal Schools Swimming team of 1946, one their way by mail ship from Durban to East London for the SA Schools Swimming Championships.
My mother, then Erna Bradley (the PE teacher and Sports Mistress at GHS, Pietermaritzburg) was the Chaperone. That's her holding the mascot. The team manager was Godfrey Logan, seen standing far right.
The one photo shows the team on board ship; the other is of signatures of some of the team members on the reverse side of the photo.
According to my Mom's memoirs, she wrote the following.
"In my first year of teaching, I was asked to travel to East London with the Natal Schools Swimming Team. We went down and back on the Union Castle liner from Durban.
In the following year, we traveled to Bloemfontein.
In those teams, I had characters like Jackie Widd, who went on to win gold and silver at the Stockholm Olympic Games for backstroke, and Derek Hill, whom I met again years letter when he helped me start the Seals Swimming Club in Livingstone, Northern Rhodesia (Derek was the father of Graham Hill who was Chad le Clos' coach). Joan Harrison swam for Eastern Province/Border at those SA Interschools galas".....
About my Mom and Derek Hill starting the Seals Swimming Club in Livingstone.
This was in about 1955 after the 16-year-old son Livingstone's Town Clerk fell off a pleasure launch on the Zambezi River one Sunday and drowned because he couldn't swim.
My Mom, appalled that the lad had been a non-swimmer, along with Derek Hill, approached and got permission from the municipality to start the club at the local municipal public swimming pool, and as a small lad, not only was I a member, I well recall the hosting by the club of the Northern Rhodesian Swimming Championships there, probably in about 1958.
Also, every year, the Seals Club would host an evening of swimming races, springboard diving as well as fun events.
One such event was when a local bodybuilder, climbed into the shallow end of the pool and was handed down an enormous barbell from the gym in which he worked out
Adopting the lifesaving backstroke technique, he 'swam' the 50m length of the pool with the barbell supported by his hips, where I as a 6-year-old, I took it from him and carried it back up on the poolside, as it was made of balsa wood!!
As the watching audience had thought it to be the real deal of a steel bar and plates, my picking it up and carrying it back up the pool 'brought the house down' with laughter from the assembled packed crowd!!

South African Primary Schools Swimming Championships

1967  - Pretoria

1968 - Kimberley

1970 Bloemfontein

1971 - Bloemfontein

1972 - Bloemfontein

1973 - Bloemfontein

1974 - Bloemfontein

South African High Schools Swimming Championships

1965 - Kimberley 

1972 - Johannesburg

1974 - Kimberley

1975 - Durban 

1976 - Cape Town

1977 - Boksburg

1982 - Durban


2008 - East London

2018 - Ellis Park, Johannesburg


South African schools water polo tournament

1980 - SA Schools water polo - Cape Town


The Gauteng Schools became the undisputed winners of the 2017 National SA Schools Swimming Championships

Polokwane, Thursday, 13th April 2017  – The Gauteng Province Schools were the undisputed winners of the 2017 National SA Schools Swimming Championships with a total of 154 medals (74 gold, 48 silver and 32 bronze), as the competition successfully concluded today at the Polokwane Swimming Pool in Limpopo.

The event, which was organized by Sport and Recreation South Africa, in partnership with the Department of Basic Education, Swimming South Africa and National Schools Aquatics, has seen four days of fast times and great potential from both schools and swimming clubs.

The first race of the afternoon was the 400m freestyle, which saw the men’s gold medals going to KZN’s Leshen Pillay (13) in 4:58.43 and Gauteng’s Janco Rademeyer (17) in 4:26.62, while the winning ladies were Free State’s Chloe le Roux (13) in 4:49.75 and Mpumalanga’s Jordyn Minifie (16) in 4:44.54.

Pillay also scooped the bronze medal in the 100m butterfly in 1:11.69.

North West’s Pieter Coetze (13) was victorious on two occasions, clocking the fastest times in both the 50m backstroke and 100m butterfly in 31.17 and 1:05.40, while the remaining age group gold medals went to Gauteng’s William Roos (12),  Mpumalanga’s Giano dos Santos (15) and Limpopo’s Heinrich Strydom (17) in 33.57, 29.91 and 28.87, respectively.

The ladies’ hotly contested 50m backstroke saw some amazing swims from KZN’s Ashley Ebing (12) and Cara Message (13), Eastern Cape’s Alexia Velde (14) and Chloe Velde (16), who won their age group races in 34.88, 33.82, 32.25 and 31.71.

There were fast times in the 100m butterfly with Gauteng’s Kian Keylock (12), Western Cape’s Eugene van der Merwe (15) and Limpopo’s Ivan Beukes (17)  bagging the gold in their respective age categories in 1:11.03, 1:01.46 and 58.58, while on the ladies’ side, the first places went to KZN’s Emma Christianson (12) in 1:11.26, Free State’s Luchelle Oosthuizen (13) in 1:12.15, North West’s Idele du Toit (15) in 1:09.32 and Western Cape’s Kristen Straszacker (17) in 1:06.97.

Ending the event with three gold medals was Gauteng’s Thulane Mabuza (S10), adding the multi-disability 100m backstroke to his tally in 1:19.22, while Mpumalanga’s Naysi Strauss (S14) won her respective race in 2:00.75.

In the 50m multi-disability freestyle, the gold was claimed by Western Cape’s Adin Pieters (S15) in 30.50, with the ladies’ first places going to Mpumalanga’s Gene Prinsloo (S14) in 51.46 and Gauteng’s Bongekile Sabeka (S10) in 37.99.

Final Medal Table:

Position Province Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 Gauteng Schools 74 48 32 154
2. KZN Aquatics 38 36 35 109
3. Mpumalanga 12 14 16 42
4. Free State Schools 12 14 13 39
5. Eastern Cape Aquatics 9 8 9 26
6. Limpopo Schools 7 13 14 34
7. Western Cape Schools Association 6 13 21 40
8. North West Swimming 5 4 3 12