Rhodesia Schools - Manicaland


Umatali was the main town in Manicaland, on the Mozambican border of eastern Rhodesia, and home to the Umtali Boys Schools and the Umtali Girls  School. Eagle School, located in the mountains south of Umtali, existed from 1948 - 1978. 

In 1954 the US diving champion Ann Ross performed at the Umtali pool.

 Three of the finest swimming products were Mike Taylor Sarie Bezuidenhout and Shelley Butler.


1965 - J. Jordan winnimg 100 butterfly.

Photo is of the UBHS swimming team in either '64 or '65.

Standing at Back (L to R) Mike Kok, Clive Chadder, Tim Dufton, Andrew van der Schyff, Unknown, Unknown, Frank Prescott, Kevin Thomas, Brian Morgan.

Middle Row: Unknown, Unknown, Jungle Jordan, Coach?, older Morgan brother, Unknown, Unknown.

Seated Front: Unknown, Darrel Weatherden, Mike Williams, Unknown, Dave Richards, Unknown, Unknown.

date unknown


Umtali High School History - Swimming

Swimming began with the new town swimming pool in 1926. The girls would swim on one afternoon during the week and boys on another. According to the Easter, 1926 copy of the "Borderer," "it was a great surprise to1 find such a large number of children could swim and dive." In the Christmas,

1926 copy it was said that the girls attending swimming lessons "show keenness and work hard to improve their skill." A. Norris and B. Rose were mentioned as being outstanding swimmers, and, indeed, the girls felt proud in defeating the boys in a team race during the gala which was held at the Municipal Baths in 1926. However, it must be added that the boys were confined to breast stroke!

In 1927 Eileen Critten became the first girl in the town to pass the stiff life-saving test necessary to earn the Bronze Medallion. In 1929 Molly Watson, who was the diving champion, was selected as the first swimming captain. In 1931 Helen Cooper became the first Victrix Ludorum in the School's swimming history and the following year it was won by Jasmine Gordon-Forbes. Jasmine was the swimming captain in 1931 and 1932, the diving champion in 1931 and she and T. Rutherford in 19321 became the first school girls to gain the Award of Merit for Life Saving in Umtali.

The galas at this time were very different from today. For the girls there were 11 events made up of handicap, beginners, trick and crocodile races as well as diving and plunging competitions. The School swimming was dominated by Mona Harrold between 1933 and 1936 and she spear-headed a side which swam in the Umtali Swimming Club Gala. However, because of the distance, the School was unable to send a team to Bulawayo to compete in the Inter-School Gala.

Backstroke was introduced in 1937, freestyle having been the only style practised in the galas prior to this one. June Hodgson, who was senior girl champion in 1937 and 1938, was an outstanding back stroke swimmer. During the War the children rarely got the chance to swim and the War years copy of the "Borderer" mentions that the 1945 gala was very successful "considering there had been no swimming at all in the previous year." Also in 1945 the School competed at the Inter-Schools gala in Bulawayo and finished fourth out of seven schools competing.

The next four years failed to produce any outstanding swimming although Inter-House galas were very enjoyable affairs

But since 1959 after the completion of the School swimming bath, the School has done outstandingly well in swimming. A great effort was made with coaching and in 1960 the School reached the finals of the Inter-Schools gala where they came fifth. Earlier the Mashonaland-Manicaland Inter-Schools gala had been held in the Municipal pool. One outstanding achievement during the year was by Sarie Bezuidenhout who came first in the girls under 16 one metre diving at the Federal Championships. Sarie became the first U.G.H.S. schoolgirl to be awarded her Rhodesian colours when she was selected for the Federal team to compete in the South African Championships in January, 1961, and has represented Rhodesia since then, including the Tokyo Olympic games in 1964.

Shelley Butler was selected to swim against the Australia Touring swimmers in March, 1961, and the following year represented Rhodesia at the Empire Games. Shelley also swam for Rhodesia in the South African Championships in 1962, 1963 and 1964 and in 1965 was selected as captain.

In the Rhodesian Inter-School finals, Umtali was fourth in 1963, third in 1964 and sixth in 1965. During this time Shelley Butler dominated the scene but several others also did well. Lorraine Laing did very well at backstroke and in 1964, the year after leaving School, was selected for Rhodesia.

In 1965 Patricia Butler and Cynthia Edward represented Rhodesia at the South African Championships and they repeated this achievement in 1966.

1966 was a highly successful season. The School finished first in the Northern (A Section) Inter-Schools gala and then a week later travelled to Bulawayo to complete in the finals. Here they finished second, nine points behind the winning school, Townsend.

In 1967 the School brought back the Rhodesian Inter-Schools Cup for the first time, a feat they have repeated in 1968 and 1969. It is undoubtedly team effort which has produced these results but mention must be made of those who have represented Rhodesia in the South African Swimming Championships. In 1967 Paddy Butler and Barbara Black as swimmers and Cynthia Edward and Karen Talbert as divers were chosen. Paddy was then selected to represent Rhodesia in a triangular test match between Canada, South Africa and Rhodesia. In 1967 Barbara Black, Marilyn Burton and Karen Talbert were selected and these three and Janice Collett were chosen in 1969. Marilyn Burton was also selected for Rhodesia in the South Africa games.

Photo of a swimming team from Umtali Boys High School.
Date is unknown but it is believed to be from the late 1960's or early 1970's

Back Row: I. Armstrong, R. Burton, W. Rudd, P. Moore, O. Kriel
D. Weatherdon, K. Thomas, N. Appel, D, Dute, S. Preston
T. Addison.

Second Row: J. Armstrong, G. Appel, M. Glendining, I. McSherry, D. le Roux, M. Langerman, I, Fisher, G. Bleach, N. Reynolds.

Seated : A. Olivey, M. Kok, F. Prescott, T. Dujton (Capt.), A. Menne, Esq., C. Chadder, E. Combe, C. Clark, D. Richards.

In front: G. Bennison, F. Bellringer, D. Oakley, S. Johnston, F. Steyn, D. Futter, J. Becker,
V. Langley.

1936 Swimming report


This season all the girls have improved their strokes, the beginners are progressing well, and all girls who can swim at all can dive.

It is a matter for regret that every girl in the School does not take swimming, but it is satisfying to see so general an improvement among those who do. Some of the seniors have become really proficient and have acquired a high standard of watermanship..

We were disappointed that we could not send a team to Bulawayo to enter for the Inter-School Gala, but we hope to do so next year.

Our School Gala was very successful (the results will be found elsewhere); J. Collie's swimming was noticeable, P. Nicolson dived particularly well and M. Harrold is to be congratulated on winning the championship for the third time.

A number of our girls swam in the Umtali Swimming Club Gala and did well. The team: M. Harrold, R. Koster, E. Posthumus, M. Bower, M. Cole (res.).

1937 School report

Swimming Gala

This year the School Swimming Gala was held through the kindness of the Municipality in the Municipal Baths.

This was the first school festivity held since the new House, Fairbridge, was formed, and great enthusiasm was shown throughout all the houses.

We were sorry that the girls' race against the Convent had to be cancelled, but hope that next year we shall be able to compete against them.

Mr. Hill, at the end of the afternoon, thanked the staff and the judges, Miss Mackay, Major Bowles, Mr. Winkel, Mr. Alexander, Mr. Hodgson, Mr. Slaven, Mr. Davis and Mr. Heron, for all they had done. Miss Palmer was also thanked for the trouble she had taken with the refreshments.

Mrs. Bain, the Mayoress, presented the prizes and said how much she had enjoyed the afternoon.

The results were as follows:—

Two lengths, senior boys: 1, Mackenzie; 2, Woodward; 3, Mare. Time: 44.2 secs.

50 yards, girls: 1, J. Collie; 2, M. Bower; 3, A. Frost. Time: 86 secs.

100 yards championship, boys (under 16): 1, Mackenzie; 2, Gould; 3, Allen. Time: 1 min. 24 2-5th secs.

100 yards championship, Senior boys: 1, Mare; 2, Mackenzie; 3, Woodward. Time: 1 min. 13 secs.

One length, senior boys: 1, Mackenzie; 2, Woodward; 3, Mare. Time: 19 secs.

50 yards championship, junior boys: 1, Coaton; 2, Stokes; 3, Adair. Time: 35 secs.

50 yards championship, senior boys: 1, Woodward; 2, Mackenzie; 3, Mare. Time: 31 1-5th secs.

One length, senior girls: 1, J. Hodgson; 2, J. Collie; 3, M. Cole. Time: 22. 2-5th secs.

House team race, Junior girls: 1, Moffat; 2, Stanley; 3, Fairbridge; 4, Livingstone.

Senior girls: 1, Livingstone; 2, Stanley; 3, Fairbridge; 4, Moffat.

Junior boys: 1, Fairbridge; 2, Stanley; 3, Livingstone; 4, Moffat.

Senior boys: 1, Moffat; 2, Stanley; 3, Livingstone; 4, Fairbridge.

Boys' water polo: Moffat,"8; Livingstone,  8

One length Junior boys: 1, Coaton; 2, Stokes; 3, Elliott. Time: 21 secs.

Diving, Senior boys: 1, Mackenzie; 2, Reid; 3, Allen.

Two lengths, Junior boys: 1, Coaton; 2, Rail; 3, Stokes. Time: 53 secs

Diving, Junior boys: 1, Saunders; 2, Stokes; 3, Gale."

One width, 11 years and under, boys: 1, Gale; 2, Saunders; 3, Chevallier. Time: 21 secs.

One width, 11 years and under, girls: 1, M. Cowie; 2, J. Bowles; 3, M. Perkins. Time: 10 l-10th secs.

One width, girls, 12-13 years: 1, M. Gale; 2, O. Bailey; 3, J. Shepherd-Cross. Time: 7 2-5th Secs.

Diving, Senior girls: 1, S. Winson; 2, P. Nicolson; 3, G. Hodgson.

25 yards back stroke, girls, open: 1, J. Hodgson; 2, O. Bailey; 3, M. Gale.

Diving, Junior girls: 1, J. Godfrey; 2, M. Gale; 3, P. Smith.

1 width, beginners, girls: 1, G. Peets; 2, C. Saurman; 3, J. Bowles.

1 length, 14 and under, girls: M. Gale; 2, P. Smith; 3, R. Cocker. Time: 24 secs.

25 yards, Junior girls: 1, R. Cocker; 2, P. Smith; 3, M. Gale.

House Champions: Stanley, 109; Moffat, 96; Livingstone, 69; Fairbridge, 47.

School Champions: Boys, Senior, J. Mackenzie. Junior, J. Coaton, 10, 100

yards, under 16, Mackenzie. Girls, Senior: Jean Collie. Junior: Margery Gale.

Senior boys' champion (runner-up): F. Mare.

Senior girls' champion (runner-up): June Hodgson.

Two lengths, Senior boys: Mackenzie.

50 yards, Senior girls: J. Collie.

50 yards, Senior boys: Woodward.

Two lengths, Junior boys: Coaton.

25 yards back stroke, girls: J. Hodgson.

100 yards, boys (under 16): Mackenzie.

Junior girls' champion: M. Gale.

Junior boys' champion: Coaton.

Junior girls' champion (runner-up): Peggy Smith.

Junior boys' champion (runner-up): D. Stokes.

Umtali Boys High School swimming team c. 1960

D. Coaten - K. Fynn - K. Truman - D. Hume - T. Wood - R. Coltman - N. McNish - C. Abrahamson - W. Lancaster - R. Pigott
P/ Lambert - M. Taylor - A. Collings - G. Nortje - R. Truman - G. Brown Esq. (coach) - T. Atkins (capt.) - D. Ferguson - D. Heyes - L. Baxter - I. Hill
B. Baxter - A. Morgans - C. Bezuidenhout
L. Steel - J. Porter - J. Jordan - R. Harper - N. Gardiner.

Umtali Boys High School water polo team - 1965

Back row Martin Springer, Mike Crompton, A Stephenson, C Oliver? 
Rob (Sam) Salzer, Kevin Vickery,

Front row Neil Kriel, Steve Sherren, Brian (Briv) Baxter, Bill Springer

Umtali Girls High School

The Girls school split from the boys school in 1954 - the boys moved to new campus on the edge of town.

Umtali Girls High School Swimming Team 1963

Back row: F Evans, C Crapper, S Timmins, D Scott, H Viljoen, C Austin.

Second back row: S Brett, H Mcfarlane, C Parker, E Meara, S Richards, K Savage, A Holland.

Third back row: P Butler, P Steel, S Froggat, D Weyer, M Donald, M Lark, E Jones.

Second from front: G Lawrence, S Webster, S Butler, (Vice Captain), M Norris (Captain), L Laing, E McArthy, A Kloppers.

Front row: P Hume, C Marner, H Coetzee, L George, C Edwards.

THANKS to the generosity of the State Lottery Trustees, the school swimming pool has become a reality. As we go to Press the pool is almost ready for use. It will be officially opened on the 1st December by Mr. B. B. Hill, a former headmaster of the school and one of the trustees.

The bath is fully tiled: the length is 75 feet; the breadth 60 feet, and the greatest depth 9ft. 6in. The diving apparatus has been bought out of school funds and one diving board of the highest quality, imported from the Union of South Africa, was presented to us by an Umtali swimming enthusiast.

Until the school can afford to build permanent changing rooms, temporary ones of a log cabin type have been constructed by ourselves, and these will have to serve our purpose for several years.

The boys, who have had no swimming: for nearly three years, are eagerly looking forward to regular swimming periods.

The pool was designed and constructed by Country Building Contractors, and work commenced in June, 1956. We are indebted to the Umtali Municipality for doing the considerable excavations at cost. Much work remains to be done to beautify the surroundings but this should be completed during January, 1957. The site will then be very attractive and a great asset to the school.


Extracted and recompiled, by Eddy Norris, from the 1956 UBHS Borderer magazine which was made available to ORAFs by Trevor Walton. Thanks Trevor.

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