Saturday, 12 February 2022 – Perfect conditions once again greeted swimmers at the aQuellé Midmar Mile as the disabled event got under way on Saturday morning.
Powering across the dam in a new personal best time of 23 minutes 37 seconds was Pietermaritzburg swimmer Alani Ferreira. The visually impaired two-time Paralympian was thrilled with her performance and is looking forward to using the experience as a building block for a busy year of international competition ahead.
“It was really amazing. I got to race it with my training partner [Emily Martens – who acted as a guide swimmer] which I think was the most amazing part.
“It’s a PB for me. The last time I did a 24.16 so I’m really happy with that time.
“Next up is qualifiers in April for Commonwealth Games and world champs and then hopefully competing at world champs and Commonwealths so it’s a busy year ahead,” added the 23-year-old.
Meanwhile, David Williams emerged as the fastest swimmer in the physically disabled category. Born without legs just below the kneecaps, Williams was involved in swimming [representing KwaZulu-Natal] as well as hockey and rowing before being introduced to adaptive surfing where he qualified to represent South Africa at the ISA World Para Surfing Championships in the USA.
But on Saturday it was all about a return to swimming.
“It was surprisingly good… You couldn’t ask for better conditions. It’s beautiful. I think my best time previously was high 32,” said the Durban swimmer who finished in 27 minutes 28 seconds.
“I wanted to get back into fitness and swimming and stuff and then I wanted to do it for something. One of my other friends told me about [childhood cancer charity] CHOC – you can swim and raise funds for CHOC so then I contacted them, and they sorted me in out in minutes. It was amazing to be back in the water. I loved it.”
Clearly loving his time in the water was Travis Warwick-Oliver who had his leg amputated after a motocross accident and thrives on setting himself new challenges. He completed the gruelling 16-mile charity challenge on Friday, raising money for Happy Bundles, and was then back in the dam on Saturday.
“I feel good. My friend Rudi [Craps] convinced me to do another one. He also just did 16. I feel alright. It actually feels quite nice today. The conditions were amazing – it was like a mirror out there,” he said afterwards.
“I’ve done the 8-mile once before [before the amputation]. I entered the 16-mile last year but I had surgery so I couldn’t do it, so I was happy to do it this year and I’ll definitely be back.”
In the deaf category, Sydney Olympic silver medallist Terence Parkin finished as the fastest of the men in 26.51 with Maritza Snyders quickest of the women in 33.24.
Aaron Putz won the men’s title in the intellectual impairment category, finishing in 25.18 while Cornelia Fowler took the women’s title in 33.20. Paula van Zyl took top honours in the women’s physically disabled category after finishing in a time of 28.19.
aQuellé Midmar Mile action continues on Sunday with the age category and elite events. For more information, head to www.midmarmile.co.za.