Friday, 11 February 2022 – The total hasn’t been tallied up yet as donations are still flooding in before the March 31 cut-off, but already over R1.5 million has been raised by swimmers taking part in the 8 and 16-mile charity events at the aQuellé Midmar Mile.

Over 150 swimmers completed their two-day 8 and 16-mile challenges in perfect conditions on Friday before thousands of regular competitors converge on the famous KwaZulu-Natal dam over the weekend.

Among them was former African triathlon champion Dominique Donner, who celebrated her 50th birthday by completing her eighth 8-mile swim. The renowned swimming coach completed each of the eight miles swum by the Crawford North Coast schools relay team, which included her nine-year-old daughter, Rachael.

“It’s been fantastic. The spirit of the kids was amazing, they raised over R30,000 within 10 days. We’ve got until the 31 of March to perhaps get to R40,000,” said Donner.

“This is my eighth year of doing eight miles. I’m originally from Cape Town and back in the day we didn’t really travel to do the Midmar Mile although I regret that now because it would have been great to be here from the beginning. It’s an amazing event,” she added.

Also celebrating a memorable milestone was Janet Viedge who finished her 10th 8-mile swim, raising money for breast cancer charity Pink Drive.

Having started 10 years ago with three friends, Viedge explained: “We always said we’d do five, and then 10. Unfortunately due to various reasons they couldn’t carry on but I did so here I am.

“It’s been great. I wasn’t very fit this year so yesterday was a little bit tough but today was great – I loved it. Muscle memory is an amazing thing. The conditions were just great. It was flat and just really good.

“I enjoy raising the money – we do it as a group with a swimathon in Maritzburg which is very well-supported. So I enjoy that, I love the camaraderie and being at the dam with everybody so it’s been fantastic,” she added, after being handed a celebratory bottle of champagne.”

Joining the celebrations was fellow Pink Drive swimmer Rose Chite, who completed her fifth 8-mile challenge.

“It takes a bit of craziness to bring you back but the camaraderie brings us forward, makes us do what we do and it’s for the greater cause so I’m very happy doing it and I’ll do it again,” said Chite.

“When it comes to the second day you really have to dig into yourself to get it done but we’re here now, we’ve done it and I think I’m proud of myself.”

Race director Wayne Riddin commented: “We’re very happy. The big focus for these two days has been the charity fundraising… They’ve gone over 1.5 million all together so it’s very encouraging for the first year coming out of Covid.

“The team spirit showed here when Janet Viedge finished her 10th year of doing eight miles and raising funds for charity is what it’s all about… It’s about completing the 8 or 16 miles and we’ve very happy that the weather played its part. That’s made a big difference,” added Riddin, also making special mention of Jo-Anne Barnard who has raised over R60,000 for CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation and Georgie Butcher who has brought in over R50,000 for Save the Rhino.

A total of 15 swimmers completed the gruelling 16-mile event, with Reino von Wielligh completing the challenge in the shortest combined time of 6 hours 9 minutes 50.

Matt Pelser was quickest of the 8-mile swimmers in 3:10.35 with 15-year-old Emily Martens finishing quickest of the women in an impressive time of 3:16.40. All three will be back to will contest the elite races on Sunday.

aQuellé Midmar Mile action continues on Saturday with the disabled swimmers setting off at 8am before the standard entry swims with a rolling start begin at 9am.

Those still planning to enter can do so at the dam on the day. Log on to www.midmarmile.co.za for all the details.

 

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