A Brief History of Aquatics at Parktown Boys’ High School
The following extracts were taken from: O’Carroll, N., 2000: The Lion Roars, Black and red Books, South Africa pp367 - 379, and 397 - 388)
To the editor of The Parktonian
Sir, - I feel it is my duty to appeal for a Swimming Club. At present, Parktown is not the only school without one but we were the only Boys’ High School who did not enter a team at the last swimming competition held a few weeks ago at the Doornfontein Swimming Baths. There is no reason why we could not form a Swimming Club as well as other schools. The Milner Park Swimming Baths are quite near. Arrangements could be made so that the baths could be available on a certain afternoon. Other schools already make use of them.
- Yours truly,H.L.
The appeal in 1927 fell on deaf ears and it was not until 1933 that the school participated in the Inter-School Gala for the first time. All the Inter-High Galas were held at Ellis Park where the spectators surrounded the bath and cheered on the school they had come to support. There was little support from Parktown at that first gala and only one junior, Kingston, qualified for the 50 yards. In the 200 yards team race, the school, represented by R. Lamprecht, L. Bereton, B. Clack and E. Morris was placed third being beaten by King Edwards and Jeppe and, while six boys qualified for individual events, non was placed when the finals were swum.
There was increased interest in the galas in 1934 and 1935 but after that, the school did not participate until 1943 when they were given a warm welcome back. The final placings of the schools and the points awarded were:
Jeppe High 115
Parktown Boys’ 99½
King Edward’s 88
Athlone High 41½
Houghton College 22
Highlands North 16
When 1953 came along, Parktown Boys’ High School was the proud possessor of a sparkling new swimming pool and a considerable improvement was expected from the swimmers. There were more swimmers in 1954, and more spectators for the Inter-High Gala. The divers who put up an excellent performance, helped tremendously towards strengthening Parktown’s position. In the final result, Parktown finished second after a great struggle with Jeppe High and Marist Brothers Observatory but King Edwards victory rather took the wind out of their sails.
Following a staff meeting on 28 January 1955, it was announced that all competitive sport, swimming and athletics, would be banned on account of a polio epidemic and consequently there was no swimming that year.
On 15 May 1933, Advocate H. H. Morris, K. C. presented a cup to the school for Inter House swimming but, because a gala could not be arranged, the events for the season 1933/34 season were swum off on different afternoons after school early in 1934. Being the first Inter-House swimming, there was not much competition and Thebans who seemed to have most of the swimmers, won easily after which Advocate Morris presented the cup to the winning house and medals to the winners of the events.
The inaugural gala, held when the school’s swimming bath was officially opened in 1953 was won by Spartans.
For the first time (1985) Parktown Boys’ went down to Natal to swim the famous Midmar Mile. We went down to Midmar in the school bus leaving on Friday at second break and reached Veld and Vlei in Escourt on Friday night, all very tired and sleepy. On Saturday, we went into Escourt and played polo against Jeppe Boys’ High who were also there to swim the mile. The actual swim took place on Sunday morning.
The first Parktown Boys’ High School water polo team to be entered into the Johannesburg Boys’ Schools’ Water Polo League was selected in 1974. The league consisted of six other schools so all the schools were able to play against each other and, although a new game, Parktown showed its true colours and gained second place. The following year Parktown also ended in second place but whereas they had lost to both King Edward’s and Edenvale in 1974, the only loss in 1975 was to King Edward’s and that was after a marathon ten quarter game with the score 5 - 4. It was a successful season with Parktown scoring sixty-seven goals in seven matches and only conceding fifteen.
By the time the 1985/86 season began, Parktown had eight teams and more than ninety boys competing against other Johannesburg schools. A water polo camp was organised at Utopia in the Magaliesberg. Over eighty boys attended and many parents went along too and helped organise training sessions in the pool in the mornings with the afternoons spent on rules and tactics. The water polo camp became a big event on the calendar and the First team won the Old Edwardian’s Tournament for the first time in 1989 defeating Jeppe in a very close, nail-biting finish. It was down to penalties when the score was level after extra time.
In use since September 1953, the imperial-sized swimming pool served the school well for forty-four years but it did not conform to the metric system which had been in use in South Africa for some time. In addition, water polo had become a very popular sport where ideally the pool should not have a shallow end. The result was that, in 1997, the bulldozers moved in and created a great deal of mud and noise. When the renovators had finished, they had created a sparkling new swimming pool where the old pool had been.