The early history of swimming pools and places in Port Elizabeth are very well described by Dean McCleland in Port Elizabeth of Yore February 8, 2017. as wel, as the surfers blog Millers Local which shows the area until the 1950's. In 1898 a salt pool was built on the habour wall, and the town's first swimming club was founded - the Port Elizabeth Amateur Swimming Club (PEA), which still functions today. In 1913 a fully enclosed indoor pool was built on Humewood Beach. This venue was to demolished after being damaged by the floods of 1968. According to Dean McCleland the McArthurs baths facility was developed as a tidal pool after 1913. Today the sea has receded an the pool is no longer a saltwater tidal pool. Read More On February 6, 1929, the Port Elizabeth City Council voted £10,000 for a swimming pool in St George's Park. The 55 yard pool was deep enough to allow for a 5m diving board, and was the host to a number of South African swimming championships. It was the focus of aquatic sports activity in the town until the 50m pool was built in Newton Park during the 1950's. This pool was 9 lanes wide, and deep enough for water polo, as a seperate diving pool was built, with three metre boards. In 2010 the whole pool was re-developed and enclosed, with the resulting loss of the diving pool. It was the venue for the 1954 South African swimming championships and Currie Cup water polo tournament.
Original settlers in the area found wide open beaches and with few places to build a harbour.
Saul Issroff wrote this description of the town in its early days: The first small jetty was constructed in 1837, but having been swept away in a storm a few years later, a new one was eventually built and lasted until the seventies, when the first solid North Jetty was erected on the site of the Charles Malan Quay of to-day. As early as 1840 a little paddle steamer, the Hope, plied between Port Elizabeth and Table Bay until she was eventually wrecked off the coast near Humansdorp. She was succeeded by the paddle steamer Phoenix under Captain Harrington, the " Phoenix Hotel " being then in course of erection on the Market Square was named after her. In view of the fierce storms that frequently swept the Bay, piling up wrecks on the North End beach with great loss of life, the merchants soon realised the necessity of having a breakwater or sea wall as they styled it, for the protection of the increasing number of ships that were making use of Algoa Bay. The site chosen for the new breakwater was just below the mouth of the Baaken's River at the South End and work was commenced there in 1855. Stone was quarried from near St. Mary's cemetery and conveyed in trucks drawn by oxen along narrow railway specially laid down for that purpose: huge piles of timber were brought up from the Tzitzikama forests and stacked on the beaches; an army of native labourers and white overseers toiled from morn till night with steam cranes, stone blocks, wooden piles, over a period of some ten years.
Alas! the whole undertaking was doomed to failure and a severe financial loss. Sand was to prove their unforeseen enemy and soon great quantities had settled within the sheltered portion of the breakwater. The final blow came unexpectedly one day in November 1867 when a great storm struck the town. The Baaken's River rose to a great height and descended in a great flood, bringing down with it so much silt and debris that the bed of the harbour was covered to a depth of four and a half feet, thus rendering it useless for shipping. The entire structure was eventually removed. From the time of the landing of the British settlers in 1820 up till the advent of the first newspaper in 1845 is an obscure period in the annals of the Bay. The population was extremely scanty and the " village" itself was struggling for existence Nobody appears to have had either the inclination or the time to record daily events. Any valuable records which may have been made were lost in the great fire that destroyed the Post Office, and, later the tragic fire that gutted St. Mary's Church.
The town is blessed with a number of beautiful beaches, and a number of surf lifesaving clubs. The early history of Port Elizabeth suggests the locals used Humewood beach for swimming, as harbour and railways developement had covered the beaches directly in front of the town. After the breakwater developments of the 1930's, sand piled up to form what was to become known as King's Beach, after the British royal family vist in1947, when their train was parked next to the beach.