Swimming was included as a sport in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. Recognition of specific styles of swimming is relatively new, with freestyle introduced in 1902. Synchronised swimming was introduced at the turn of the 20th Century.
South Africa's governing body, Swimming South Africa (SSA), was formed in 1899 and was recognised by the International Swimming Federation in 1909. South Africa also has an entrenched culture of life saving and ocean swimming due to its vast coastline.
A video of Swimming for Kids
Information on swimming for kids in South Africa
Is swimming right for your kids?
Professional and competitive swimming is organised by style and distance. Because it is one of the most diverse kids activities, your child is sure to find at least one type of swimming they like. Usually, competitors swim for the best time in heats, before competing in a championship race. Swimmers usually swim individually, but as representatives of their school or club. In relay events, swimmers swim as part of a team. Pools are generally either 25m or 50m long. Synchronised swimming and diving are two other water-based activities that can be taught in clubs.
Swimming is highly recommended by exercise experts and doctors. Although it is better to learn with a professional, you can teach your children to swim yourself so long as you educate yourself on the potential dangers.
Swimming has many known benefits. Swimming can:
- Build endurance, muscle strength, and cardio-vascular fitness
- Teach life skills, such as self discipline
- Promote a sense of self worth
- Improve academic performance
- Encourage agility and co-ordination
- Create increased breathing capacity
- Impart urvival techniques and water safety
- Provide exercise and rehabilitation during periods of injury
Get your kids started!
Most pools across South Africa offer swimming lessons for children and babies. With babies, a parent or guardian usually needs to be in the pool as well. Most schools and clubs participate in swim meets and competitions. Prices and charges vary, but are usually around R80 - R260 per lesson. Check with your local swimming club for prices and timetables.
Parents will need to make sure their child has access to the following equipment before he or she starts swimming classes:
- A swimsuit
- Sunscreen (if swimming in an outdoor pool)
- A kickboard
- Floaties or bubbles
Other optional equipment can include a snorkel, swim-fins, and paddles. Most equipment is available for hire at clubs and pools, or provided at the commencement of class. For toddlers, waterproof nappies are compulsory in public swimming pools.
Remember, children should never be left unattended whilst swimming.
Stars and events not to be missed!
Competitive swimming features heavily in the Olympic Games, and the World Swimming Championships are held annually.
South Africa has performed well in international swimming championships since the first modern Olympics. We have earned a total of 12 medals in swimming, including 4 gold medals.
Notable swimmers include Penelope Heyns, Lyndon Ferns, Ryk Neething, and Roland McSchoeman.
Swimming is a great kids activity and a good way for the family to have fun together!