Peter and Brian Elliot

Elliot family lives for swimming

PETER ELLIOT former Springbok swimmer from the Eastern Province and one of the best swimming instructors in South Africa is head of this well-known swimming family.

As an instructor he played a large role in the swimming success of his son Brian, Geoff Grylls, Neil Aldridge and Jonathan Reen. The four who all gained Springbok colours in the 1960's were by far the best swimmers that EP delivered.

Peter's wife, Sheila, supported his coaching endeavours, while Helen, Derek and Gregory, the other family members, were all top EP swimmers. Brian and Helen were well known instructors in their own right.

Peter was born in Uitenhage and attended St Andrews Junior School before matriculating at Muir. His school sports included athletics, swimming, rugby and cricket.

Peter recalls the tough swimming gala's between Muir and Grey while he was at school, with Muir winning the Clint-trophy for 13 years running.

Geoff Mandy, who represented SA in the Olympic Games in London in 1948, was along with Peter, a stalwart in Muir's swimming team. Peter speaks highly of the training they received under their swimming coach Arthur (Coxie) Harrow.

As a scholar, Peter represented EP in freestyle. He made his debut for EP in 1935 at the SA Championships held at the old swimming pool in North End. He came third in the 880 yards and fourth in the 500 yard races.

In 1936 in Bulawayo he came second in the 500 and 880 yards, and in 1937 in Johannesburg he again came second in the 880 yards, but this time third in the 500.

Peter joined the mines in Brakpan in 1937, and swam for Transvaal in 1938, 1939 and 1940. In 1939 he again came second in the 880 and 500 yards, and first in both in 1940.

In 1939 he was awarded his Springbok colours when he competed in Durban against the Australian touring team. Peter was placed third in the 440 yard race. In 1942 Peter joined the air force when he returned to Uitenhage. He was in Rome for two years and represented the Mediterranean region. Geoff Mandy and Duncan Melville, were also part of the team.

Peter was 27 years old when he took part in the SA Champs in Pretoria in 1946. EP Management convinced him to represent them at the SA Championships held in PE the following year which would be his last appearance for EP.

Peter carried on taking part competitively in galas till the age of 31, and at that age, along with Ernie Nicholson, Alf Boliter and Paul Winer, set a new EP record in the 4x100 freestyle medley.

The Redhouse River Mile was one of his favourite events. He won the race in 1935, 1936, 1945 and 1946. In 1947 Peter joined the EP management and in 1950 became a professional coach..

Springbok Shirley van der Poel was also coached under Peter. His son Brian made a name for himself swimming for the USA in 1966 and again with the Springboks in 1967, and Britain and Europe in 1968.

Brian Elliot

Coach Brian Elliot started his own club - the Aquabear Swimming Club - back in the 1970's. His father's club - Barracuda SC - was based in Walmer, while Brian set up an indoor facility at Pickering street in Newton Park.

1970 EPASA awards night. Brian Elliot next to his brother Derek Elliot to his right.

Redhouse river Mile - 1933

12th Redhouse river Mile - 1935

Coach Peter Elliot with Springbok Jon Reen

Coach Peter Elliot with Johan Oberholzer, Liza Crankshaw, Lynn Hamilton, Margaret Nicholson, Behind Jonathan Harley and Jeanette Slabbert