The British colony of Natal was created after the area was taken from the original Boer republic of Natalia in 1842. The old capital of Pietermaritzburg was retained, although Durban was to become the main commercial centre of the province. The sporting province of Natal stretched from Port Edward in the south to Richards Bay in the north, and included inland towns of Escort, Dundee and Vryheid. Zululand is a sub-province covering the northern part of Natal
The warm Indian Ocean creates a better climate for swimming than any other part of the country, allowing for year-round training in outdoor pools. The many beaches and tidal pools also help develop aquatic sports, as many swimmers were also surf lifesavers. For tidal pools along the Natal South Coast and to see tidal pools of the North Natal Coast click here.
The Midmar Dam is home of the biggest open water event in the world, while the Newcastle Swimming Club hosts an open water race in the Chelmsford dam. Many Natal schools have their own pools, and there are also numerous municipal swimming pools.
Swimming has old roots in the province of Natal, and the capital Pietermaritzburg boasts the oldest public swimming in South Africa in Buchanan street. It also has a number of schools, swimming clubs and a university in the town.
The coastal city benefits from a warm climate and beautiful beaches, which has resulted in a very strong aquatic sports culuture. The town hosted it's first national swimming championships at the West Street baths in 1907, and has been the preferred venue almost every year since 1994.
Set in the foothills of the Drakensberg, Newcastle is the third largest town in Natal. There is a swimming club with a long history, and the town has a fantastic Olympic pool which often hosts national and regional events. It is located north of the Chelmsford Dam, where open water events are held.
Smaller centres in Natal
The are number of towns in the province which have active swimming clubs and school swimming. They include Vryheid, Richard's Bay, Ladysmith, Escort, Dundee, Eshowe and Greytown.