Defending aQuellé Midmar Mile women’s champion Robyn Kinghorn has confirmed she will be among the swimmers taking part in the 2021 event.

Kinghorn and men’s winner Michael McGlynn completed a double for Durban swimmers in 2020.

“Winning the 2020 aQuellé Midmar Mile was an extremely special moment for me, it still makes me smile thinking back to that race,” said the Varsity College student who will be hoping for a repeat performance next month.

This year the aQuellé Midmar Mile has been spread over two weekends – 6-7 March and 13-14 March, with organisers putting numerous measures in place to keep all swimmers safe and ensure the 2021 event is Covid-compliant.

Rather than a mass start with hundreds of swimmers in the race, Kinghorn will be part of a group of 20 elite swimmers contesting for the title in a specially arranged event on 7 March.

“I think the 2021 aQuellé Midmar Mile experience is going to be unique in comparison to anything we have seen before. I know that Wayne Riddin and his team are going to make it safe and professional for everyone and I am excited to be a part of it,” she said.

“I would have to say that although I am the defending champion from 2020, I choose to look at each race individually and not base it on previous results or even previous days. Each open water race is a new opportunity for me as there are so many different factors that can occur on the day.

“I think with the field being a lot smaller than usual it is going to make the swim a lot harder as we will be more aware of competitors, but I think that’s what makes open water swimming strategic and unique.”

Like her competitors, Kinghorn has had to regain her fitness after a tough lockdown period, which she admits was both a physical and mental challenge.

This past year with regards to Covid-19 has certainly been an eye-opener for me. I think adaption and mental motivation were the most important aspects that I had to follow. I found ways to train in my home pool during our first lockdown, as well as having to regain fitness with limited access to swimming pools. Being a distance swimmer, it was tough mentally and physically not being able to train the kilometres that we normally would.

“But my training is going well at the moment, and I am happy with my fitness levels. Fortunately, my coach, Alisdair Hatfield, has found a few school pools for our club to train in which we are extremely grateful to have. It is also great to have the Prime Human Performance Institute supporting me with my fitness out of the pool.”

As for the challenge of defending her Midmar title, Kinghorn added: “I would definitely have to say that I am feeling excited. Both this year and last year I was just looking forward to being back at Midmar Dam doing what I love, surrounded by my competitors in the water and friends out.”

Like her fellow champion, McGlynn, Kinghorn is also hoping for a spot on the South African team to the postponed Tokyo Olympics in July. 

“I do have my eye on the Tokyo Olympics, for which we will need to finish top two in the 10km at the South African Open Water Nationals at the end of March in order to go to the second qualification round in Tokyo. But for now, my main focus is on Midmar. I will be using the Midmar Mile to see where I am with my fitness and for any last adjustments,” she explained.

Meanwhile, organisers of the aQuellé Midmar Mile have reiterated that all measures are in place to ensure a safe and enjoyable swim for participants with no mass starts, no spectators, masks for all swimmers at the start and finish and other protocol in place.