In the early 1950s, an era when American colleges and universities were populated overwhelmingly by homegrown students, Norman, Oklahoma, seemed an unlikely place for exotic transplants. But that perception quickly changed when South African swimmer Graham Johnston arrived in August 1952, followed over the next six months by six of his countrymen. Soon everyone associated with collegiate swimming became familiar with the University of Oklahoma’s dynamic South African connection.
Graham Johnston of Bloemfontein arrived at Oklahoma in February 1952, partly due to the efforts of Springbok long jumper Neville Price. Price was later to return to settle in Johannesburg, where his American wife Janet became a swimming coach in their son Springbok swimmer Dean Price - himself also an Olympic swimming coach. Johnston returned home briefly, but then settled in Houston, Texas, before becoming one of the foremost masters swimmers in the world.
Five more South African swimmers accept scholarships to Oklahoma - Peter Duncan, Lin Meiring, Melvin van Helsingenand Julain Dyason. Pretoria diver Ernst de Jong also joins them.