The 2018 aQuellé Midmar Mile, which took place on 10 and 11 February, saw some 13 000 swimmers take to the waters of Midmar Dam. As always, the excitement was palpable and a safe, enjoyable swim was had by all.

Saturday morning saw temperatures north of 30 degrees, and event one, the Disabled/Ironman/Ironwoman/Biathlon/71 years and over event, splashed off at 8.15am. A large number of swimmers celebrated their completion of the Comrades Marathon, Dusi Canoe Marathon and the aQuellé Midmar Mile. Briton Bailey Hairsine was the first swimmer out of the water in this race in 21:04, swimming out of category in preparation for the men’s 14-30 event the following day. Fifth place overall went to the first lady and the ultimate ladies’ victor of the 2018 Mile, American Ashley Twichell, in a time of 22:29. The first disabled swimmer out of the water was former Paralympian Terence Parkin. Earlier in February, Terence embarked on an epic 902km cycle, swim and canoe marathon to raise money for young South Africans with disabilities. Top honours in the female disabled category went to Maritza Synders in 29:36.

Event 2, the family team event, saw almost 3 000 swimmers take to the water in the biggest event of the weekend. Connor Botha was the first man out of the water in 20:44, with Henre Louw hot on his heels in 20:45. The first lady home in this event was Kaitlyn Albertyn in 24:07. The Albertyn family, well known to the open water swimming community and consisting of Gary, Megan, Connor and Kaitlyn, deservedly walked away with the family relay prize.

The company relay got going at 11am, and the water became a sea of orange, thanks to the use of safe swimmer devices being compulsory for this event. Top honours in this event went to Team Unilever, consisting of Megan Wainwright, Murray McDougall, Megan Liebetrau, Shawn Hughes and Michael Paps, with their three fastest times amounting to 1:29:07.

The last event for day one was the non-company team event, which was won by Team Canada, which included Alexander Pratt, Ryley Mcrae, Raben Dommann, Marit Anderson, Emma O’Croinin and former aQuellé Midmar Mile champion Keri-Anne Payne. As is typical for a day at Midmar Dam, the wind had picked up during the course of the morning, and swimmers in this event faced choppier conditions that those which had been experienced earlier in the day. The time achieved by their top three members was 01:01:44.

Sunday 11 February dawned chillier than the previous day, but it did nothing to deter the excitement   as the girls 13 and under/women 31 and over event got going at 8.30am. The first prize in this event went to 13-year-old Leigh McMorran, in a performance which race director Wayne Riddin described as unlike anything he had seen in years. Leigh exited the water in 22:02 and we will definitely be keeping an eye on Leigh’s swimming in the years to come. 31-year-old international visitor Lexie Kelly won top honours in the 31 and over category in a time of 22:31.

It was over to the men and boys at 9.45am, and 46-year-old Terry Heller outshone all the youngsters, climbing out of the water in an impressive time of 21:47. Young Connor Albertyn was the first junior home in a time of 22 minutes on the dot.

Excitement reached fever pitch at 11am, when the main women’s event, the 14-30 category, took to the water. The defending champion, Ashley Twichell, wasted no time in stamping her authority on this race. She took an immediate lead and won convincingly in a time of 19:12. Second and third place went to Marit Anderson and former champion Michelle Weber respectively.

The final and most exciting race of the 2018 aQuellé Midmar Mile got going at 12:15pm, with many top open water swimmers from around the world ready to battle it out. Despite not following an ideal line to the finish, Russian visitor Kirill Abrosimov was the first man out of the water, taking the gold in a time of 18:56. Second place was so hotly contested between Ashley Hogg and former champion Chad Ho that the decision of who was second and who was third had to be decided by a team of judges. Ultimately, second place went to Ashley Hogg and third place to Chad Ho – both in a time of 19:08.

The aQuellé Midmar Mile team extends its heartfelt thanks to every swimmer, parent, helper and volunteer who made the weekend the resounding success that it was. “We’ll see you on 9 and 10 February 2019,” invited race director Wayne Riddin. “It’s never too early to start training.”

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