Ho is back for more

2015-02-07 00:00

THE 2015 Midmar Mile could see top swimmers Chad Ho and Keri-Anne Payne add more milestones to their records at the event.

Ho goes in search of his sixth Midmar title in the open men’s race and sixth successive win, confirming his status as the “Bruce Fordyce” of the event.

Meanwhile Britain’s Payne is looking to extend her record of seven Midmar victories — the record number of overall victories — this year in what is expected to be a highly competitive women’s race.

In the men’s race, Ho will be tested by fellow SA swimmer Myles Brown, who finished third in last year’s race. Ho’s Midmar nemesis, Troyden ­Prinsloo, will not feature this year, putting a little less pressure on the reigning champion.

“Guys like Danie Marais, Myles and Matt Meyer are really fast swimmers and whoever wants it most on the day will take it, but I am up for the ­challenge,” Ho said at last week’s event launch.

Although Ho was humbled to be measured up against nine-time ­Comrades Marathon winner Bruce Fordyce, the 24-year-old said he was taking it a year at a time.

“Bruce is obviously a legend in his own right. As far as my record goes, I am hoping to create a legacy at Midmar but I’m just taking it as it comes.”

While race director Wayne Riddin believes Ho is set for another victory, he was adamant that the women’s race would be the one to watch this year.

Payne is looking like a strong contender to win the race, but she will face stiff competition from Ashley Twichell and rising star Stephanie Peacock.

Twichell, who is a two-time Midmar winner, comes into the race having ­recently recovered from shoulder surgery. Having won last year’s race, she will be looking to get off to a winning start in her first competitive swim of the season.

Payne was in a similar position last year, going into the race after a long break. Amazingly, she finished second behind Twichell last year while doing the 8 Mile. She was still competitive in her seventh race of the weekend.

Meanwhile Peacock will be ­competing in her first ever Mile. The 22-year-old has been a phenomenal talent in the pool, breaking American swimmer Janet Evans’s 22-year NCAA record for 1 500-metre freestyle in 2012.

Riddin also highlighted the milestones being made by young and old swimmers at the world’s largest open water swimming event.

Lorna Cochran is set to extend her record as the oldest swimmer to ­complete the race at 92 years old this year. Midmar founding member Mike Arbuthnot will swim in his 42nd ­Midmar Mile. The 82-year-old has swum in every race since 1974.

According to Riddin, Seth Hopkins was the youngest boy entrant at five years old, while Alex Dale, also five, was youngest girl set to swim this year.

The girls/women’s 14-30 age group event starts at 10.40 am tomorrow, while the men’s 14-30 age group starts at noon.

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