Our Story

Compiled by Roger Eagles

Swimming Southland has a great history. As early as 1837 a "bathing club" for lnvercargill was proposed.  Swimming used to take place in the lnvercargill Estuary.  Old swimming pools were built close to the Estuary. Swimming competitions were held in the Waihopai River and Bluff HarborIn Gore the swimmers used to swim in the Waikaka River.

It was in 1928 that Swimming Southland Inc was established.  This was simultaneous with the opening of the Connon Street pool, which lasted until 1997.

Southland has produced five Olympians: Mark Treffers - Munich 1972, Montreal 1976, Brett Naylor - Montreal 1976, Richard Tapper - Barcelona 1992, and Natlie Wiegersma - London 2012, all of whom also represented New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games.  In addition, Joyce MacDonald and Lyall Barry, both from Southland (although Lyall later swam for Auckland), represented New Zealand at the Empire Games and Commonwealth Games in 1938 and 1950 respectively.

This year a history of swimming Southland will be published and be made available for purchase.

Not only has Southland produced some great swimmers, but it has also produced some very fine officials including three recipients of Queen's service metals being J H Davenport (1964), John Claude Kirkland (1977), and Robin Jackson (2023).

John Van Leeuwen conquered Foveaux Strait on the 7th of February 1963.

Numerous clubs have been formed in Southland and 11 continue providing learn to swim and competition opportunities.

There are resident coaches in both lnvercargill and Gore for competitive swimmers.  The Coaches and officials are hopeful that Southland will before long again produce national championships and swimmers who can represent New Zealand at the Commonwealth and Olympic Games.