Harry Getz

Harry Getz was an attorney and a member of the Jewish community in Cape Town - and a phenomenon of South African aquatics from the 1920's until his death in 1968. He was a competitor, coach, referee, administrator and historian of water polo and swimming in South Africa.

Harry Getz was born on 16 Jan 1909, Cape Town. He attended SACS  and the Normal College. In 1926 he began to study law at the University of Cape Town, graduating to become an attorney in 1930.  He was married to Rhoda Stella Press in 1940 in Cape Town and had two children - Phillip and Lyndall.

He was the driving force behind the development of inter-varsity aquatic tours and championships, he played, coached and refereed water polo, was SAASU President and a three-term executive member of International Swimming Federation (FINA). He continued to be active in FINA even after South Africa was banned from international competition. Beginning at the 1948 Olympic Games, he officiated in swimming and/or water polo as timekeeper or referee at every Olympiad until his death. He was named chief judge of Swimming at both the 1964 Tokyo and 1968 Mexico Olympic Games.

When he was not officiating, Getz was often a radio or television commentator on swimming, water polo, and soccer events, including the Olympic Games of 1948 and 1952.

"Hurry" Getz, as one South African sportswriter dubbed him-attributing the nickname to Getz's constant globetrotting-held many key positions in South African sports, including pre-World War II secretary and post-war chairman of the Water Polo Olympics and British Empire Games Association, and president of the Water Polo Association of South Africa.

After becoming SAASU President in 1967, Harry Getz died on 4th September 1969  - aged 60. 

"Because of Harry Getz swimming has prospered. His loss to the fraternity of aquatic sportsmen throughout the world will be keenly felt."

Dr. Harold Henning - FINA SECRETARY.

  • 1934 UCT inter varsity team

  • 1948 nationals
  • 1958 UCT Awards dinner



    1958 UCT Awards dinner



    1959 Springbok water polo tour

  • 1964 German water polo tour match with Harry Getz as Chief Judge




    1964 German water polo tour match with Harry Getz as Chief Judge



    1966 - with Springbok swimmers and coach Bob Campbell





    1968 Springbok swimming team with Harry Getz

Cape Town's Pier Head Swimming Club - 1929, with Gladys Ingelby, Harry Getz, Fatty Berkowitz, Ray Wyner, Milly Matthews, Leon Sacks, Ivy Jones, Leon Klaff, Harry Immelman.

1931 Western Province water polo team with Harry Getz, I. Davis, L. Ayris, R. Dunbar, G. Inge, G. van der Berg, T.G. Osler and I. Berkovitch.

An outstanding swimmer and water polo athlete himself, Getz was a Western Province Curry Cup competitor from 1928 to 1934.

In 1950 Harry was in a swimmer in the South African team to the Maccabi Games. In 1953 he was the manager of both the swimming and water polo teams.

In 1954, he was appointed to the FINA International Technical Swimming Committee, a selection that made him the first South African to ever serve on a FINA committee. From 1960 until his death, Getz was an executive member of FINA. From 1957 to 1960, he served on FINA's International Water Polo Board.

A review of South African Jewish Sport for the third Maccabiah Games in September 1950. Harry Getz writes about the state of swimming, diving and water polo development.

SAASU received a Special Letter from FINA upon the deat of Harry Getz in 1968. 


Harry Getz was the force behind inter-varsity swimming from the time he co-founded the organization in 1929. He was President of the SAU Swimming Federation from 1931 until his death in 1969.

The SAU swimming team competed in the 1961 Universiade held in Sofia - capital of the Communist state of Bulgaria. South Africans were generally not welcome in Communist countries! He again organised their participation at the 1963 Universiade in Brazil.