99-year-old Cochran inspires entrants for 50th aQuellé Midmar Mile

11 October 2022 – Entries for next year’s aQuellé Midmar Mile are coming in thick and fast as the famous open water event prepares to celebrate it’s 50th anniversary in 2023.

The first of the seeding events is scheduled for 29-30 October 2022 at Prime View Adventure and Leisure in Midrand for those eager to secure a good seeding time for next year’s race.

Wishing she could join in on the action again but now unable to travel is one of the icons of the aQuellé Midmar Mile, who will fittingly celebrate her 100th birthday in the event’s 50th anniversary year, Lorna Cochran.

Cochran made a name for herself when she first completed the race at the age of 75. She participated in 17 races in total and still holds the record for the oldest finisher, completing the 1.6km swim at the age of 91 in 2015.

“I would have loved to be there next year. I would give my eyeteeth, but there’s no way that I could do it,” said the 99-year-old from her home in Benoni.

“It was just the fun that brought me back every year. We had such a great time. [Race director] Wayne [Riddin] does a fantastic job there. It was just the getting together in the group and it was the great people we swam with – and to see everybody and be part of it,” added Cochran, whose late son Neil initially roped her into the event.

“Then the last time I was 91 and I said to Neil I didn’t feel like I could do it, but he told me I had to come because they were bringing a great grandchild. I thought: Oh, mamma mia – four generations in the water. It was very great. I was a bit slow – I can’t remember the time. My best one I think was a 53.11 I did one year. But you just get in the water, it hits you in the face and you drink the water – it’s like that,” she added with a laugh.

“I’ve seen youngsters at Midmar saying: ‘I can’t see the bottom.’ What do they expect? When we were children, we swam in whatever, so it didn’t bother us that much.”

A remarkable woman in many respects, Cochran had seven children and eventually 33 great grandchildren. She played hockey for then-Western Transvaal, worked until the age of 70, played tennis until she was 84, travelled the world, and was also renowned for her singing, dancing and acting talents, taking the lead role in several productions.

Asked about her longevity, Cochrane isn’t too sure what’s kept her going so long.

“Maybe I just inherited the genes, I don’t know… bog Irish,” she quipped with a laugh. “We walked a lot more and anybody will tell you the two best exercises are swimming and walking.”

As for setting the Midmar Mile record as the oldest finisher she simply said: “I was very proud, but records are meant to be broken.”

The soon to be centenarian has one piece of advice for those who might not be sure whether they are up to swimming across the renowned KwaZulu-Natal dam next February: “One always gets a bit nervous but a friend of mine from church gave me a bookmark one year and it says on there: ‘Always remember that the task ahead of you is never as great as the power and potential within you.’ I’ve said that many a time to people standing at the start of Midmar.”

To enter the 2023 aQuellé Midmar Mile, which takes place from 11 to 12 February 2023, or any of the seeding events, head to www.midmarmile.com