3 Reasons why you should treasure our treasurer

Her commitment to excellence has inspired many...here are 3 reasons why you should treasure our treasurer

Dealing with swim coaches & parents who have this relaxed, hands-off, let-the-kid-own-the-sport attitude…NOT…can be a very stressful and daunting task. But there is one “Tannie” that can handle this bunch. I had the privilege to meet her in September 2017, and herewith a short tribute to the Iron Lady of Swimming in the Western Cape – Elna Cecil


Besides earning Eastern Province School Colours for Gymnastics and Swimming, Tannie Elna has been actively involved with swimming since 1985 where she was treasurer, gala entry clerk and  manager for the teams going to Aqua Bears and Jnr Nationals for Gordons SC: (which was one of the oldest clubs in Western Province.)

But where did this passion for swimming start? 

She was born (can’t remember when) in Port Elizabeth.  Moved to Uitenhage at the age of 3yrs.  Attended Jordan PS & Brandwag HS up to Standard 7 (now grade 9).  Participated in Hockey, Tennis, Gymnastics, Water Polo, Life Saving and Swimming. 

Swimming was her passion and in the afternoons after school she would join the Ernie Nicholson Swimming Squad for training. She received EP School Colours for Gymnastics and Swimming.  Moved to Jeffreys Bay and went to hostel in Humansdorp. Completed standard 8 to 10 at Nico Malan HS in Humansdorp. Also participated in hockey, tennis, gymnastics and swimming. 

Living in Jeffrey’s Bay, she spent her weekends and holidays on the beach, suntanning and surfing.  What a wonderful life!


3 Reasons why we treasure our treasurer

  1. Now what is it that Elna actually does? For me personally, she creates a  ‘calming’ effect at galas. I remember walking on pool deck in Oudtshoorn for level champs and not seeing her around. Then suddenly she appears looking a bit tired and immediately a sense of calm comes over me. Jip, nothing for her to finish off at Champs in Cape Town late on a Friday evening, hop into her car and travel to the Klein Karoo in the middle of the night. And suddenly, there is a ‘calm effect’ in Oudtshoorn. Her energy is endless.  

Excerpt from her CV:

2000 – present: Official at galas, Probation judge, worked on MM and ET.  Also ensured that all equipment was transported to and from galas 

2003 – present:  Also did the registrations of athletes, officials and coaches to SSA.

2005 – present:  Assisting the Open Water Swim convenor with the entries and running of the OWS events. 

2007 – present: Elected as Treasurer for WPA. 

2016 – Present:  Assist the current Swim Board Convenor with the checking of the setup of gala events.  Sent through downloads with the latest registration results, as well as new up and coming gala event files.  Have to answer a lot of the queries that are directed to the Swim Board Convenor and that he is unable to answer.

Capitation at galas, done chop chop & correct, dealing with coaches queuing at her table, (and some forward parents) handling scratching’s, rules & regulations all done in a breeze while those eyes wonder over the brim of her glasses not to miss anything (good or bad) happening. Oh yes, then she does registrations for a few thousand swimmers, parents, coaches, clubs etc. And yes, you can ask her about 10 year little Johnny and she will know exactly who you are referring to.

3 Reasons why you should treasure our treasurer

2. Her strong work ethic based on the ideals of discipline and hard work.

In this short extract of her CV, one cannot help to notice that Elna has a strong work ethic.

After school moved to Port Elizabeth and worked for a year at the Revenue Office.  Working was not my scene and I enrolled as a student at the Graaff-Reinet Teachers Training College doing a 3yr course to specialize in Physical Education.  During College holidays I worked part time in the ICU section at the Provincial Hospital in Port Elizabeth to earn some pocket money. As posts in this field were very scarse and I was not ready to teach any subject, I again went job hunting.  Started work in 1975 at the Provincial Library Service in Port Elizabeth. Not what I really wanted to do, but at least I got a job.

Got married in 1976.  In August 1977 we moved to Cape Town and I got a transfer to the Provincial Library Service (DCAS) in Cape Town – Lucky me….   Retired after 40yrs service at DCAS in 2015.

My involvement in swimming started again in 1985. Gordons SC:   Treasurer and gala entry clerk.   Manager for the teams going to Aqua Bears and Jnr Nationals.

WP Aquatics: (Also see above)

2003     Assisting the Swim Board convenor with entries for galas, as well as the running of galas.  Elected onto the WPA Exco as the secretary.  Was responsible for the taking of minutes at meetings, circulating minutes and other notices to the members.

In 2017 WPA split up into Districts and Cape Town Metro Aquatics was established.

2017 – Present:  Elected as Treasurer for Cape Town Metro Aquatics

2019 – Present: Elected as Record Officer for WCA and served on the Swimming and Open Water Technical Committees.

Honorary Membership:

        2001    Meritorious Award

        2003   Honours Award

        2007   Life Membership

In 2012 I received the Achievers Award from Dept Cultural Affairs and Sport.

Ok, there we have it. Short and sweet. As I mentioned before, I met Elna in 2017. I knew nothing about swimming then, and still very little today, but I have never met a person who was, and still is, always prepared to make time to share her knowledge like she does so patiently with me. All this for the passion of the great sport of swimming.

One thing I’ve learned from swimming is that with all the technicalities in swimming, reading, and more reading, is of utmost importance. The same applies to communication coming from Elna and others (swim convenors, etc..) sent to clubs, coaches & parents. Read it & learn the rules, but as I’ve learned, people DON’T read and have to be spoon fed all the time. Trust me, Elna taught me very quickly to read!! I think the quicker clubs can “educate” their parents to read all communication received from CTA, the quicker we will make the jobs of people like Elna easier. 

3 Reasons why you should treasure our treasurer

3. Being a super mom and granny whilst still dedicating so much of her time to swimming.

In December 1979 my daughter was born.  The joy of my life and a handful.  In January 1981 my son was born and another joy in my life.  Had my pigeon pair and I was happy.

As my love for sport was still there, I encouraged my kids to participate in sport from a young age. Both my kids got married and I’m very lucky and proud to have 6 adorable grandchildren (3 boys and 3 girls). 

There are so many cogs in the wheel that makes a swim meet go around. You have a couple officials in the timers booth working an electronic system. This is where you will always find Elna. As parents we fully understand preparing for a gala. The swim gear, towels, goggles, swim suit, (2 of each) and then the food and snacks. Early to bed and then the trek to the meeting the next day. 

Finding parking, that’s not too dificult, then to find space to sit and get our swimmers comfortable, finding coach, warming up, snacks, making sure our children report to starter, 100’s of children and parents milling around, noise, chlorine smell, wet towels, etc, etc. Then thankfully after 3 to 4 hours we pack up and go home reflecting on the meet. 

Spare a thought for Elna. Normally there at the crack of dawn and one of the last one’s to leave…sometimes up to 12 hours or more. And it does not stop there. Now the results must get to clubs, coaches and parents. It’s a never ending task! 

“I think my life would be very boring without swimming and all the people that are involved” says tannie Elna. 

I’m sure there are many coaches and parents out there that can share some precious thoughts and experiences about Elna Cecil. Please feel free to share with us in the comments below. 

As for me, I sincerely treasure our treasurer. I salute you Tannie Elna. 

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