Rhett Gardener

Rhett, James Bassingsthwaighte and Kerry Lee Atherstone

L to r Nicci Connell Lee van Breda Gardener Adam Webber Liezl Rautenbach Eugene Gower and Mandy Fischer

Border diving had excellent juniors after the Vaughans and Isherwoods and Rivetts moved on from East London In the top picture l to r are Rhett, James Bassingsthwaighte and Kerry Lee Atherstone.

At SA champs 1996 in Durban. In the second picture is the Border team at the Senior championships 1993 in Ellis Park Johannesburg. L to r Nicci Connell, Lee van Breda (Gardener) Adam Webber, Liezl Rautenbach, Eugene Gower and Mandy Fischer

Jane Figueiredo, Linda van Linda von Broembsen and me at the de Jong Diving Centre in Pretoria. Jane, current coach to the British Olympic Diving Team last dived at the Centre in the 1970's.

I was awarded colours in 1989 or 1990.

When I came to SA as a refugee from Zimbabwe where the Rule of Law had broken down, I moved, after 5 years here in Natal, to work in Johannesburg. I formed the Germiston Diving and Trampoline Club for my two children, Lee and Wayne, and myself to compete in both the diving and trampoline disciplines.
As a "family team" the three Gardeners competed for Eastern Transvaal in Trampoline events under the South African Amateur Trampoline and Tumbling Union. I became the Secretary-General of the SA Amateur Trampoline and Tumbling Union.
Wayne Shaggy Gardener represented SAATTU in Germany, Switzerland, and Russia in 1990 as an 11-year-old. It was the first SA sports Team to compete in Russia after the isolation years. My daughter, now 
Lee van Breda
, represented SAATTU in an International event in Portugal a year or so later.
As a family group we competed in Transvaal in diving. In due course, the Germiston Diving and Trampoline Club was registered under the name Jesters Diving and Trampoline Club with the Transvaal Amateur Swimming Union then registered with The South African Amateur Swimming Union (under Issy Kramer as President).
In 1992 the three Gardeners were selected TOGETHER in the same senior diving team to compete for Transvaal in the final SAASU Championships (the diving was in Chatsworth that year). Unfortunately, just before the championships Wayne pranged a 5132D in the de Jong pool in Pretoria and burst an eardrum. This ruled him out of the SA champs in Chatsworth.
Lee (16)and I, (aged 47 at that time) however competed for the senior Transvaal team together. I don't know if there are many other parents who have had the thrill of competing in aquatics in the same team as their child in a national senior event. I was led to think it had never happened in TASU before.
In 1992 I and my daughter, now Lee van Breda, and son, Wayne moved from Johannesburg to settle in East London where I was the Town Clerk and CEO of the city.
East London had a rich diving history which boasted diving legends like Craig and Trevor and Bebbie Vaughan (all Springboks) as well as their mom, Springbok coach, Maureen Vaughan before they moved to PE. Other leading lights were the Isherwood family with Dannie (I think he became a doctor at Southern Methodist University medical school). He won the RSA cup one year under the tutelage of his mum, also a top Springbok coach, Coralie Isherwood - after whom the 3m board in the Joan Harrison pool's diving well was named
Debbie Rivett was also a leading diver in those days. She was a recent immigrant from Zimbabwe having trained there under Anthea Stewart a Springbok hockey girl and Olympic Gold Medalist (Moscow 1980) and a top diving coach.
The diving in East London when I arrived was being administered by Nona Keet, a teacher, and diving coach who did wonderful work in bringing on disadvantaged divers like Luzuko Ngqakayi. Luzuko dived for SA in the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur in 1998 under Nona.
I formed yet another Jesters Diving Club in East Lindon. Jesters, which was started by Ron Ward in Salisbury Rhodesia eventually had Jesters Clubs in Johannesburg, East London, Cape Town (under Lina Woodard), and Pretoria (under Roelie Inggs) When Ron formed the original club it was not a competing diving club but was a vehicle to raise funds for the new diving boards and facilities in Rhod6 and give diving scholarships to top divers. I will write more on that another time.
Jesters was registered under Border Aquatics. Both my children dived in East London. Wayne dived as well for Selborne College and Lee for Clarendon. Border boasted many leading Junior divers like James Bassingthwaight, Kerry Lee Atherstone, James and Kerry toured Denmark, Sweden, and Scotland in 1996 ending up diving in the British Open junior diving in Edinburgh.
Wessel Gerstner (2004 FINA World championships for SA in Athens Greece) became Zimbabwe Open Champion in 1999 and also competed with Brandon Alexander in the British open in Sheffield where he reached the finals.
Wessel won the RSA Cup while diving for Border. He medaled in the British Open junior diving in Sheffield.
I, for my part met wonderful athletes and administrators of aquatics in East London. I was on the Border executive for ten years.
I ran / convened a major SA junior swimming championship at the Joan Harrison pool in 1997 . I convened the SA Masters Swimming Championships there one year too. Those events were quite a challenge for a hitherto diving only administrator. . . Especially chairing the appeals boards for swimming appeals!!

Down Memory Lane

When the Gardener family arrived as refugees from the Zimbabwe where the rule of law had broken down in the early 1980s, we missed taking part in our sport. The 3 of us formed Jesters Diving and Trampoline Club in Germiston where we were living. We, the three of us, Lee van Breda and Wayne Shaggy Gardener and me, competed in Trampoline, single and double mini-trampoline as a family for Eastern Transvaal and in diving, for Transvaal (central) We traveled through weekly to have coaching sessions in Pretoria in Wierda Park, Centurion with Helen v d Walt the Springbok coach. I bought a trampoline to train on in the back yard. We had a safety rig installed overhead. While training for SA Champs Wayne broke his arm. It seemed he would be out of the trials. But no!.... He found a way to do his body drop movements with his broken arm behind his back. He was selected in 1991 to compete in Germany and Russia.

The trampoline and tumbling team was the first sports team to compete in Moscow for years Lee went on to represent the SA Tumbling and Trampoline Union in Portugal.

Diving Memories

In the 60s Rhodesia had no heated pools for winter diving training. A number of the Rhodesian diving team members started training on trampolines in the off season. Pat Morgenood and Sandy Morgenrood (1960 Olympic Games in Rome) had a large flashfold Nissen trampoline that Don Liebermann and I were trained on in the off season.

Keith Youds, the Phys Ed teacher at Prince Edward BHS had 4 solid bed flashfold trampolines from Gymtrac in SA (SA had a number of world champion trampolinists in those days). The Prince Edward school trampolines were in the huge open sided dutch barn-style gymnasium next to the Beit Hall.

Under guidance from Keith Youds a number of divers formed the Rhodesian Trampoline Association. The main movers with me were Terry Rossiter, Don Lieberman, Norman Amato, Rob Stewart, Robin Liebermann (1972 Munich Olympics and former SA champion that had coached for years). We soon had a good group of athletes: Dennis Udwin, Jerry Emmerton, David Parrington and lots of other juniors. We introduced the level system used by the SA Amateur Trampoline and Tumbling Union. Many trophies were donated to the association. To raise money for equipment the divers did shows / displays all over the country at events like the Royal Salisbury Show where Keith coach us in a synchronized 4 trampoline display that took place in Glamis stadium in front of huge crowds.

We even did shows in closed venues like school halls. The picture below shows the late Terry Rossiter (1964 Olympics in Tokyo) doing a synchro display in Salisbury Girls High School hall. In the pic Terry and I are somersaulting from one trampoline to the other. (I recall Terry once doing a routine on 4 trampolines where he somersaulted from one to a second to a third to a fourth trampoline in the PE gymnasium but the travel momentum was too much. He couldn't stop the momentum and sailed through the air on leaving trampoline number 4 - to land in a winded heap on the tarred gym floor!)

Don Lieberman (selected for the 1972 Munich Olympics and 11 × SA champion and many times Rhodesian champion) was one of the most elegant trampolinists. In the picture he shows his beautiful line and grace in the air.

Other pictures show the Blazer and tracksuit badges of the Rhodesian trampoline Association that I recently unearthed.

I found some old tracksuit badges that may stir a few memories in other ex Manicaland or Mashonaland or Rhodesian swimmers and divers from the old days.

Top left was the Manicaland team badge from 1960. It features the Birchenough suspension bridge being a landmark of the province. Tracy Cox your dad, Geoff had many divers abseiling off that bridge. Bottom left is the tracksuit badge of Umtali Amateur Swimming Club 1959 / 60. It was the home club of many top athletes at time. Shelley Roberts, Sarie Roy Coltman.

The middle badges were Otters ASC based at Les Brown pool. I cannot recall the significance of the badge in two different colours. My mother made a huge banner for the club.

The top right badge 1963 was the Mashonaland team badge in the days of Cammie and Doris Freer, Tony Hadley 's dad as Secretary, Tom Connell, Frank Parrington, Billy Johns, Pat Morgenrood, as swimming and diving coaches, Don Liebermann and Robin and June Lieberman, Chris Sherwell, Brian Christie et al.

The bottom badge 1964 was the acme of diving - in the time of Rob Stewart, Terry Rossiter, Peter Defferary, Sarie Bezuidenhout, Lindsay Grant Stewart and Dot Armstrong. Ron Ward was the wonder diving coach in those days.


In 1972 in Braschaat Begium at the world junior championships I gave Greg Louganis a 10 on his back 1 and a half somersaulted in the straight positionon 3m in the B age group (14 /25 years age group). The other 6 judges gave him 9.5 each. His next dive was 303A - reverse 1 and s half straight . I gave 10 again. This time the 6 other judges put up 10s too.

At the end of championship banquet I was sitting with the Burgermeester Gemeente Braschaat (Mayor of Braschaat - because I spoke afrikaans which could be understood by the Flemish speaking mayor). An East German little girl diver came to the top table with her coach. Her coach spoke no English. The little girl diver said to me "My coach says that your first 10 was right". I was thrilled<