Making merry at Midmar, young and old share fun and glory

2008-02-11 00:00

The Halfway/Telkom Midmar Mile was splish-splashing fun for all who took part to win, complete the race or simply enjoy the festive atmosphere.

It was inspirational to see the smiles of the swimmers — youngest, oldest, disabled, first-time and 35th-time — as they crossed the finish line.

At 84, Lorna Cochran was the oldest woman to swim the mile. She was received at the finish line with a standing ovation and Tina Turner’s You’re simply the Best playing in the background.

Mike Arbuthnot completed his 35th Midmar race on Saturday and said that the excitement of taking part is still the same every year.

Truly inspirational were the boys from Hope School in Johannesburg. Some do not have arms and others do not have the use of their legs, but still managed to make it across the dam. For grade 12 pupil Sibusiso Mogale it was his fourth time, and he had the energy to run around kicking a soccer ball just minutes after his swim.

Yesterday was definitely focused on competing for the quickest times and it seems that that there is a lot of new talent emerging. The U13 girls’ race was won by 13-year-old Kira Hauptfleisch in 21:26. Kira, who has swum the race for the past three years says that it was great fun but very challenging.

Both the main women’s and men’s races had tight finishes with first and second swimmers less than three seconds apart. The men’s race was won by Sean Dias from KZN, who collapsed briefly after sprinting across the line.

The women’s winner was 18-year-old Erika Hajnal from Hungary, who entered as part of her training for the Olympic trials.

She said she was really happy to have won and thinks Pietermaritzburg is a really beautiful place.

Though the race was satisfying for every individual, it was especially satisfying for those who took part in the eight-mile swim, where they swam all eight races for charity.

Among the charity swimmers was Olympic Games swimmer Terrance Parkin and Garreth Fowler who said “It is enjoyable to take part, but more so when you can give something back to the race and swim for a charity.”

The Mowar family with parents Richard and Connie and their four daughters Courtney, Caitlin, Jamie and Kirtsten, from Durban, took part in the Family Relay race for the third time this year and came second. Though they have been swimming individually in the challenge for the past seven years and hope to do so in years to come, they say it never gets easier.

A weekend at the Midmar was fun with all sorts of people coming to lend a hand, take a photo, and enjoy the variety of fast foods, sweets, fun and games. Pupils from Lincoln Park High school volunteered to take down names of the winners and hand out medals. Grade eight Nquobile Mngadi said it was a great way to get out of boarding school and exciting for her to lend a helping hand and meet new people.

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