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Swimming pools in SA


Swimming pools, and competitive swimming, were introduced to Southern Africa by the British during the 19th century. The dry dock in Cape Town harbour initially served as a venue for aquatic carnivals, before indoor pools were built in Camps Bay (1905), Lond Street and other suburbs of the city. Schools often also had their own pools.

Port Elizabeth built a saltwater pool at Humewood in 1898, with Durban and East London also creating similar facilities.

Many towns built municipal Olympic size swimming pools during the 1950’s and 60’s, although few were heated and none covered.

Olympic pools like Newlands and Durban’s Beach Baths were important for the history of aquatic sports in South Africa. The atmosphere of the annual South African national championships often depended on the venue and dramatic scenes unfolded before packed grandstands.

Newlands swimming pool, with it’s dramatic backdrop of Table Mountain, was an electric venue for world records, relay races between rival provinces and tense final night water polo matches for the Currie Cup.

From 1976 nationals were televised by the SABC, which resulted in an even more dramatic stage with added floodlights introduced for the cameras.

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