The Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) is the international governing body for competive swimming, and the South African Amateur Swimming Union has been a member since 1910. South Africa has a long and proud history of international success in swimming, with four swimmers having being inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Of the 40 countries which have honorees at the ISHOF, only 14 have more swimming Honourees than South Africa.
The South African British colonial era began in 1806, which brought organised sports to the Cape. Competitve water sports included water polo, swimming and diving. Swimming races had been held in England since the 1700's - often for a bet or a dare. These were often long distance races, sometimes for a number of days. In Cape Town it resulted in the first crossing to Robben Island, and long challanging swims in False Bay. Aquatic Carnivals were held as public entertainment, which included races, diving, novelty acts like eating under water - and swimming races. Experts - known as "professors" taught swimming and provided the technical skills at the carnivals. In Cape Town carnivals were held in the harbour dry (graving) dock.
The English model of swimming pool building was followed to construct various indoor private swimming pools during the 19th century - for example in Camps Bay and Claremont and the existing Long Street Baths dates from 1908. A pool was built at Humewood in Port Elizabeth in 1898, which prompted the creation of a number of swimming clubs in the city. See the PE Amateur club page here.The presence of a large military force in the colony provided members for the various clubs, which by 1900 led to the first "inter-provincial" championships between Eastern Province and Western Province, where the men competed for the Currie Cup water polo tournament. At that first SA Championships, held in the new Humewood pool at Port Elizabeth, R. Marais of Cape Town won the 100 yard freestyle.
Follow this link to see the results of the first 100 years of South african swimming championships.