Meanwhile, looking forward to finishing his 16 miles on Friday is Reino von Wielligh, who will then go on to be one of the main contenders in the men’s elite race on Sunday. Von Wielligh, who is seeded third for the race, was not always a fan of open water swimmer.
“My first open water swim was at another event at Midmar dam, and I was so scared that my dad, who does not swim at all, had to enter and swim the first 200m with me. When he got out, so did I and I never completed my first race,” admitted the Pretoria swimmer.
“Then a few years later, I think I was 11 years old, I had overcome my fear of swimming in a dam and I completed my first Midmar Mile. Since then, I have never missed a year and this is my 18th consecutive Midmar Mile as well as my fifth 16 mile charity swim.”
Speaking about the main race on Sunday, Von Wielligh added: “I have put in the work at training with my TUKS distance teammates and listened to my coach [Rocco Meiring], thus I am confident that I can give it my all and provide great competition to my opponents.
“If I go off last year’s race some of the main competition would be Michael McGlynn and Connor Buck, as well as some of my fellow TUKS teammates Connor Albertyn, Matthew Randle and Richardt Beineke to name a few.”
19-year-old Buck finished third in last year’s race and is also eager to put his hard training to the test.
“With regards to my training, everything has been going as planned over the last few months and I am feeling good heading into this year’s Midmar Mile,” said Buck.
“Over the last few years at Midmar I have always been able to improve on the previous year’s performance. Last year I had a great race and finished third so I would be delighted if I could improve on that swim.”
Buck also pointed to several of his training partners as well as two-time defending champion Michael McGlynn as the men to look out for on Sunday.
“The Midmar Mile is a very high-intensity race from start to finish and it usually comes down to the wire so I don’t think I could narrow down my main competition to just one or two people,” he said.
“With Midmar being such a fast-paced race, I think it’s very important to get a decent start and to stay in contention with the main pack in order to give yourself the best chance possible.”
As for what has been bringing him back every year since the age of 10, when he crossed the dam for the first time, Buck added: “The fact that there are so many competitors that take part in the race creates an extraordinary competitive atmosphere, especially on the start line when everyone is tense. The race also has enormous prestige, being one of the most well-known open water swims in the world.”
Those still planning to take part in the aQuellé Midmar Mile this weekend can enter at the dam itself. For all the necessary information, head to www.midmarmile.co.za.