10 February 2023 – Gloomy weather did nothing to dampen the spirits of the swimmers taking on the aQuellé Midmar Mile Charity Challenge over the last two days.
A total of 22 swimmers completed the gruelling 16-Mile Challenge, swimming eight miles on Thursday and eight more on Friday, while there were 231 entrants in the 8-Mile Challenge split over the two days, who raised millions of rand in the process.
Once again completing the 16 miles in the quickest time was Reino von Wielligh, who will also be gunning for a top-10 spot in the men’s elite race on Sunday. His combined time for all 16 miles was six hours, 12 minutes and 11 seconds, while the fastest female swimmer was Emma Carmody, whose time of 6 hours 36 minutes and 48 seconds saw her finishing second overall. Carmody will also be hoping to impress in the elite women’s race on Sunday.
“By the last four, I thought we were going to end it well, but then the wind just picked up and I think the slowest four were the last four,” explained Von Wielligh. “But that’s where you have to dig deep. The tougher it gets the more you think about why you’re doing it,” said Van Wielligh, who had a clear plan of action after his final mile of the day.
“I’m going to get a warm shower, a piece of steak and a good massage, not in that order,” he reckoned.
While this was Von Wielligh’s sixth 16-Mile Challenge, raising money for Happy Bundles, it was a first for Carmody.
“It was an incredible experience. I’ll definitely do it again,” she said afterwards. “The last four was definitely the most challenging thing I’ve ever done but I’m very glad to have finished.”
Meanwhile, among the 8-Mile Challenge swimmers over the past two days was 80-year-old Paul Lanterme, who was raising money for CANSA.
“I wanted to be the oldest person to do it. The last time I did it I was young, I was 76,” he quipped. “Also, I’ve had a couple of friends who have passed away from cancer so this is the fourth time I’ve swum for CANSA.
“To be the oldest person is actually great and tomorrow I’m swimming again with my son and grandson,” added Lanterme, who achieved South African colours for surf lifesaving and in triathlon at masters level.
Also in the group of those completing the 8-Mile Challenge was a former winner of the aQuellé Midmar Mile, Linda Adam.
Adam (then Linda Jardin) took the elite women’s title in 1976, the same year that now-race director Wayne Riddin claimed victory in the men’s race.
“I can’t believe that it’s still going after all this time and that I actually won with Wayne – and I wasn’t even a freestyle swimmer so it was awesome,” said Adam. “It was nothing like it is now… you just got in there and got out here, so it’s a massive change and hats off to Wayne, he’s done brilliantly.”
Adam completed the 8-Mile Challenge for the seventh time. “I love swimming and this year I did it with my daughter – she did it for the first time so I swam with her which was lovely,” she said.
As for her reasons for swimming in aid of Pink Drive, Adam explained: “I have so many people affected by cancer. I swim for somebody every year – that’s why I do it – and this year it’s for my husband so it’s for a brilliant cause.”
Thousands more swimmers will converge on Midmar Dam over the next two days as the main events get underway. Those still wishing to swim the aQuellé Midmar Mile can enter on the day at the dam but should arrive two hours before their race. For more details, head to