Besides the University of Natal pool and various schools in the area, Pietermaritzburg has a number of municipal swimming pools. The SA Aquatic championships were held there in 1942 and again in 1949. The Jollife street swimming pool was the venue of the 2015 SA Short course swimming championships - also home of the PMB Seals swimming school, run by South African Olympic coach Wayne Ridden.
The Midmar Dam - venue of the Midmar Mile, the world's largest open water race, is also in the PMB area. There are also a number of famous schools like Maritzburg College that have a long swimming history.
Berg street pool
THE SPARKLE RETURNS TO BERG STREET POOL
The historical Berg Street swimming pool has been returned to its former glory.
7 Sep 2015
THE historical Berg Street Swimming Pool turned 50 years old on September 1 and there was nothing better to celebrate this feat than by having the pool restored to its former glory.
The swimming pool, which was opened in 1965, has been through its fair share of ups and downs with much of the spotlight being on its dilapidated state for many years. However, after many years of pointing fingers and attempts to secure funding, the renovations of the Berg Street swimming pool are almost complete and the public is already enjoying the fresh, new pool.
Apart from a few aesthetic features that still need to be installed, such as the undercover seating area and a new roof, the swimming pool is glistening and the change rooms are as clean as a whistle.
Fifty years ago, when the pool first opened, it was named the Berg Street Indian Swimming Bath and was for strict use by Indians only.
In 1961, Morris and Baby Pillay lost three sons in a tragic drowning in the Dorpspruit River in the city, (Shan Pillay,
The Witness, January 12, 2009). The following year, Balandren Pillay drowned while cooling off in the Duzi. These drownings served as a catalyst for former Pietermaritzburg resident Hanif Bhamjee who galvanised support via a petition for a swimming pool for the non-white community.
Trevor Charles and Ramu Naidoo were hired from Durban as lifeguards. This swimming pool became the socialising hub for the community as the skill of swimming was also quite new to the Indian community.
Stemming from the interest in swimming by the Indian community and Berg Street community at large, Unwar Rawat, who was then the lifeguard at the pool, started the Berg Street Amateur Swimming Club. The club was affiliated to the Amateur Swimming Association of Natal (Asan), the mother body of which was a member of the South African Council on Sport (Sacos).
“He [Rawat] had a vision to encourage the youngsters to follow a healthy lifestyle and called a few likeminded people to an informal meeting where the club was discussed. Local attorney Sergie Brimiah served as the club’s first president. The club had a twofold purpose — primarily to teach and coach swimming to all and, secondly, to support the Sacos struggle for equality in sport,” said founding member of the Berg Street Amateur Swimming Club and Concerned Swimming Fraternity (CFS) member Jay Jugwanth.
Slowly through the years, the once pristine and flawless swimming pool in Msunduzi began deteriorating and many boardroom battles were fought for equal facilities.
In 2011, The Witness gained access to the closed Berg Street swimming pool. The pool was filled with dirty water, the grass was overgrown and the buildings had been trashed. Copper piping was ripped off toilets and the geyser had been stolen. The management of the pools first appeared on council agendas in 2010 after consistent underfunding had left these recreation centres in dire need of maintenance. Upon visiting the pool last week, The Witness was surprised to find it in a clean and spotless state; the change rooms freshly painted and renovated with new toilets, basins and doors complementing the black and white theme.
The once damaged and mucky pump room was a pleasure to walk through as new pipes and pumps ensured the flow of fresh and clean water to the pool.
The newly appointed lifesaver, Phillip Radebe, already on duty, stood proudly by his new responsibility awaiting the rush of pupils. “I really cannot wait for the children to start coming in. I have so much to teach them as I do want to start a swimming class here. We really encourage everyone to be a part of this historical pool,” said Radebe.
“This swimming pool has now become one of the best looking swimming pools in the city,” said Community Services Portfolio chair Inderjit Manilal.