Keen competition for Midmar Mile

2011-01-14 00:00

THE 2011 aQuellé Midmar Mile at Midmar Dam on February 12 and 13 is shaping up to be one of the most keenly contested events in the illustrious history of the world’s largest open-water swimming event.

Earlier this week the event organisers were buoyed with the confirmation that once again a strong international contingent will be present to lock horns with South Africa’s leading exponents of this tough discipline in the 38th edition of this world famous event.

Heading the list of international stars will be multiple Midmar Mile winner, Olympic 10 kilometre silver medallist and 2009 Fina world 10 km champion, Keri-Anne Payne from Great Britain. The ever-popular Payne heads a strong British contingent that includes Olympic 10 km medallists Cassandra Patton and David Davies along with a group of promising juniors that include Charlotte Wooliscroft, Jack Burnell, Thomas Sunter and Alfie Howes.

Burnell, Sunter and Howes have all placed in the top six places at the European Junior 5 km open water swimming championships over the past two seasons and are sure to provide local contenders some keen opposition.

Slovenian Rok Keran will be making his debut at the 38th aQuellé Midmar Mile along with Ocean racing specialists, Kiwi Brenda Russell and Australian Candice Falzon.

Keran, the Slovenian national open water champion, is a seasoned open-water campaigner, having participated in numerous Fina open-water swimming Grand Prix and World Cup events. His consistency saw him place eighth overall in the 2009 Fina 10-km World Cup and eighth overall in the 2010 Fina Grand Prix. His 2010 season, which was focused on marathon events, saw him win the 19 km Fina event in Serbia, which he followed up with an impressive 11th place in a closely contested 25 km event at the European Championships.

Brenda Russell, who represents New Zealand, originates from Zimbabwe, a country which she captained at the 1999 All Africa Games hosted in Johannesburg. At this event she placed fourth in the 800 m freestyle.

Since relocating to New Zealand, Russell has focused on Ocean Racing and has proved herself to be a highly competitive individual in the open water. She has been the overall winner in New Zealand in 2007/08 and 2009/10, while in 2008/09 she placed second.

Her consistency saw her invited to South Africa in April 2010 to compete in the Nelson Mandela Bay Ocean Series Festival, where she proved to be highly competitive against other international ocean swimmers which included Australian 5 km world champion Melissa Gorman. Russell placed second to Gorman in the 2 km and 7 km events, proving that she is a highly competitive open water swimming athlete.

There are just three seeding events remaining for swimmers to improve their batch they start in. There is the Time Freight Kovsie Aquatics swim at the Maselspoort resort on Saturday and the Ingrams Ekhurleni 1200 m swim at the Germiston Lake on Sunday. Entries will be taken at the start.

Then there is the Time Freight Lake Heritage Water Festival at the Heia Safari Ranch the following weekend, 22 January (3 km and 5 km events) and 23 January for the three Quarter Mile swims. Entries are still open online.

Organisers of the 2011 aQuellé Midmar Mile confirmed that entries are on track and could very well eclipse the record number of participants from last year.

For more information go to www.midmarmile.co.za or contact the Midmar Mile office at 033 341 0790 during office hours.

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