About #20laps


Sydenham swimming pool


The #20laps project was conceived by theatre-maker Alex Halligey, whereby a group of us (Alex, me, as well as photographers Gail Scott Wilson and 2Summers ) explore Johannesburg’s public swimming pools. This project is a work in progress and is seasonally dependent, as most of the pools are only open from the spring and summer months, but it aims to give a snapshot of Joburg’s shared spaces, by means of getting to know those who use, and run, these spaces. And, at every pool, Alex swims 20 laps.

South African public swimming pools have a complicated history, thanks to apartheid – they were, in general, exclusively white, privileged spaces, but since 1994, they too have transformed, and are now predominately utilised by the black majority (although some of these spaces are quite mixed). An exploration of Joburg’s public swimming pools therefore also serves as an observation of post-apartheid South African society at large. And it’s a lot of fun.

*image: Gail Scott Wilson, Sydenham swimming pool.