In the parsely populated eastern Cape interior has few pools and places outside the bigger towns, while the coastal climate lends itself to aquatic sports. Smaller interior towns include Aliwal North, Cradock and Somerset East, while Knysna, George, Plettenbergbaai, Jeffreys Bay and the Kromme river, Port Alfred and Kenton are some of the Eastern Cape coastal towns with aquatic sports history.
The resort town was established on the banks of the Orange River in 1850. It was a good place to cross the river into the Orange Free State, and it has a thermal hot springs that made the town famous. The resort was developed by the municipality, and boasted a number of swimming pools. After a period of neglect, the swimming pool sems to be operational again.
Built on the banks of the Groot Visrivier, Cradock was established in 1812. The town has a beautiful municipal swimming pool which is used by the local schools. The nearby Visrivier is the venue for the annual Hansa canoe marathon.
The coastal village of Port Alfred has the Indian Ocean, miles of beautiful beaches, the Kowie river (seen below circa 1890) and even an indoor swimming pool for its aquatic activities. Recently it has also hosted a Mile river race in the Kowie River.
Port Alfred High School has a swimming pool.
Indoor swimming pool
The biennial surf ski race from Port Elizabeth to East London stops in Port Alfred. At 3am on the 7th January 1972, after a bet between lifesaver John Woods and runner John Ball, the start of the toughest surf ski race began from the Port Elizabeth City Hall to the finish at Orient Beach in East London.
Just south of Port Alfred lies the resort fof Kenton-on-sea, between the Boesmansrivier and the Kariega River, where the Flying Fish swim takes place every year between Christmas and new year. The swimmers start at the beach on swim 5,5km's upriver to Horn's Pub, with the winners finishing in under 1 hour. The 2017 results are here.
Organized by local legend triple Springbok swimmer, life saver and triathlete Kevin Richards (below), the annual Kromme River Descent is a two day event, which started in 2014, starts below the Churchill Dam ending at the mouth of the Kromme at Sea Vista. Click here to see a video of the 2016 event.
Woodridge College Swimming Coach, Haydn Holmes, and swim partner Byron Lockett, who are the 2017 Kromme Descent Champions. Woodridfge life savers Amica de Jager, Vilem Horak, Simon Schwitter and Graydon Mitchley provided support.
2015 Kromme River Descent. Group photo. — withTracy Gous, Christine Boswell, Carl Arndt, Michelle Pienaar Elfick, Duncan Edwards, Jenny Potts, PJ Duffy, Ryan Pienaar, Kerry Hains, Kevin Grey, Maria Houbenova Holmes, Iain Geddes, Richden Jute,Michael Wallis, Ralph West, Kendal Wright, Natalie Ogden, Brenton Williams, Blake Buckingham,SanMari Woithe, Michelle Enslin, Kevin Ackermann,Greg Hough, Greg Tucker, Fanta Gous, J C van Wyk, Sally Waterworth and Kevin Richards.
The area was first settled by Willem Prinsloo back in 1774, and in 1869 Gill College was founded as a university, became a boys’ school, later on amalgamated with Bellevue Girl’s School and eventually became the dual medium co-ed state school it is today. The school is located adjacent to the town swimming pool, but with winter temperatures going below 10 degrees, aquatic sports is not a priority at the school, although they do have an annual inter-house gala.
The resort town of Knysna has two schools - the 1947 Knysna Primary school and the more recent Oakhill Independent school. Both schools benefit from their own swimming pools, and excel in aquatic sports - besides swimming the Primary school has a focus on biathlon and Oakhill in water polo.
Oakhill has only recently taken up water polo as a school sport, and have already made a big impact. Started in 2011, this is the seventh consecutive year that the Oakhill Waterfront Chukka Festival will be taking place for participating prep schools and colleges. Well known as the unique open-water water polo festival hosted in the Knysna Waterfront Quays, this action-filled event is a huge attraction for schools from all over South Africa.
The resort town has recently grown to accommodate a wave of immigrant workers and permanent residents. There are few schools in the area, like the Plettenberg Bay Christian School, established in 1989, but none have their own pool. The municipality maintains a 25 m pool, and swimmers join the Fish Eagle Aquatics club, with children from Outdshoorn, George and Mosselbaai.
Supertubes at the resort town Jeffreys Bay is one of the most famous surfing destinations in the world, while the local beach is patrolled by the surf lifesavers from Woodridge College. The East Cape Swim Series regularly uses the Marina Martinique, which is where the South African Open Water Swimming Championships is to be held on March 2018.