Despite a relatively chilly start to both days, conditions were optimal and the water relatively calm throughout the weekend for the 46th edition of the aQuellé Midmar Mile, held on 9 and 10 February. Thanks to the efforts of race director Wayne Riddin and his extensive team, together with the support of various sponsors, this bumper edition of the much-loved Mile went off without a hitch, with the safety of the 14 000+ swimmers being prioritised at all times.
Saturday morning saw event one, the Disabled / Ironman / Ironwoman / Biathlons / 71+ event, splash off at 8.15am, with the 8 Mile Club also taking to the water for the first of their eight miles swum throughout the weekend. For the intrepid 16 Mile Club, this was already their second swim for the morning.
Being the event that caters for disabled swimmers, event one always evokes emotion in the hearts of those watching from the banks of Midmar Dam, and this year was no exception. First place in the intellectually disabled category went to Aaron Putz and Cornelia Fowler, in 00:25:53 and 00:33:41 respectively. In the physically disabled category, Tiaan du Plessis took top honours in 00:28:59, with Paula van Zyl leading the women’s race in 00:33:42. The first visually disabled man out of the water was Ted Foster in a time of 00:45:17, with Alani Ferreira winning the women’s category in an impressive time of 00:27:44. To no one’s surprise, first place in the deaf males’ category went to the former Olympian and sporting legend, Terence Parkin, in a time of 00:24:29. Top honours in the deaf females’ category went to Maritza Snyders in 00:32:15.
At 9:45am, those participating in the largest and most popular event of the weekend, the family team event, took to the water. This event was convincingly won by Team Albertyn – a name which is no stranger to those familiar with open water swimming in South Africa. Their win was clinched by Connor Albertyn, who crossed Midmar Dam in a time of 00:20:13; Kaitlyn Albertyn, who completed her crossing in 00:21:06 and Gary Albertyn, who rounded off the family’s achievement in 00:21:23.
11am saw event three, the company team event, get underway. First prize in this event went to the team from ETA Operations. The team consisted of Ryan Fair, who completed his crossing in 00:24:36, Altus Meyer, who finished in 00:27:33 and Ian Mathews, who completed his Mile in 00:31:31.
The final event of day one of the 46th aQuellé Midmar Mile was the non-company team event, which is popular among groups of friends and students. This year’s event was won by Team Varsity College Blue, consisting of Martin Binedell (00:20:28), Robyn Kinghorn (00:21:51) and Kristin Bellingan (00:21:55).
The Sunday of the aQuellé Midmar Mile 2019 weekend dawned warmer than Saturday, although it did not reach the highs that had been predicted by the weatherman. The first event of the day was the Girls 13 and under / Women 31 and over event, in which international visitor Lexie Kelly of the 31-40 age category stamped down her victory in 00:21:28. First prize in the 13 and under category went to Ruby Dixon in a time of 00:22:23. Other winners of their respective age categories included Megan Albertyn (41-50, in a time of 00:22:09), Annemarie Dressler (51-60, in a time of 00:24:39), Rita Townsend (61-70, in a time of 00:25:10), Bev Shuttleworth (71-80, in a time of 00:32:27) and Ann Hanson (81 and over, in a time of 00:43:58).
Next, it was time for the Boys 13 and under / Men 31 and over race, in which top honours went to the 13 and under category, with Ross Paterson claiming first prize in 00:19:47. Second place went to the 41-50 category, with Terry Heller exiting the water second in a time of 00:20:35. Hot on Terry’s heels in 00:20:45 was Terence Parkin, who was followed by Julian Taylor of the 51-60 age group in a time of 00:21:57. Top honours in the 61-70 category went to Ted Townsend in a time of 00:23:52, with Derek Fyfe of the 71-80 group emerging victorious in his category in a time of 00:30:49. The top honours in the men’s 81+ category for the weekend went to one of the race’s founders, the aQuellé Midmar Mile legend Mike Arbuthnot, in a time of 01:09:22.
The excitement started nearing fever pitch when the first of the two elite races, the women’s 14-30 event, took to the water. A very convincing win was achieved by Australian visitor Kareena Lee in a time of 00:18:20. She was followed by Michelle Weber, a well-known South African open water swimmer and former Olympian, in a time of 00:19:26. Fellow South African Samantha Randle, whose name is also no stranger to those in open water swimming circles, rounded off the top three hot on Weber’s heels in 00:19:29.
The grand finale of the 2019 aQuellé Midmar Mile, the men’s 14-30 event, was one in which many supporters hoped to see South African former Olympian Chad Ho stamp down a crazy eighth victory. This, however, was not to be, and Ho settled, with his usual brand of grace and sportsmanship, for seventh place in a time of 00:17:42. Victory was claimed by Australian visitor Nick Sloman, in a time of 00:17:01, which was nail-bitingly close to the record of 00:17:00, previously set by Chad Ho. After a sprint for second place, the honour went to South African Michael McGlynn in 00:17:28, with fellow local Daniel “Danie” Marais taking third place in 00:17:29.
The aQuellé Midmar Mile team extend their thanks to every swimmer who participated and every sponsor who contributed to the success of the event. The 2020 event will be held on 8-9 February 2020.