The thousands of kilometers of golden beaches - particularly along the Indian Ocean coast, has led to a strong aquatic sports beach culture in South Africa. Lifesaving was always a part of any English 19th century aquatic carnival, and once Australians established the surf lifesaving club at Bondi in 1907, surf swimming became part of the swimming scene in South Africa. The tidal pools played an important role in early recreational swimming, as the Indian Ocean surf was usually rather dangerous for casual swimmers.
The Orange River, and its tributary the Vaal Rivier, are the only major rivers within South Africa, with the Limpopo River on the border with Botswana and Zimbabwe. Intrepid swimmers like Mercedes Gleitz came from England and pioneered long distace swimming along some of the rivers.
Below are British soldiers playing water polo in the Mooirivier during the Boer War.
Dams have been built to compensate for the lack of sufficient rainfall in the country, and these are also used for aquatic sports. Today there a many open water races held in these spaces, as the Olympic 10km open water event has created a lot of interest in such races.