Record entry lined up for 40th Midmar

2013-02-09 00:00

MIDMAR Dam takes on a kaleidoscope of colour this weekend as thousands of swimmers and their supporters descend on the dam for the 40th Midmar Mile.

It’s the biggest open-water swim in the world, and this year a record entry is expected.

A new dimension to this year’s race is the Dusi Dash, which has attracted the province’s top canoeists.

The dash takes place at 7.45 am today, 15 minutes before the day’s programmes get under way, with the winning men’s and women’s paddlers pocketing R8 000 each for their 1,6 kilometre paddle.

Event organiser Wayne Riddin, a veteran of 24 Dusis, paddles with previous mile winner Terrence Parkin, who is one of the many stars taking on the mile.

The forecast for Pietermaritzburg today is 25C° in the morning, rising to 27C° in the afternoon, with clouds predicted. Tomorrow, the mercury starts at 27C°, rising slightly to 28C°. Rain is a possibility.

Besides Chad Ho, the favourite to claim his fourth successive men’s title, London Olympic gold medallist Cameron van den Burgh has joined the field, swimming for cancer charity.

“Cameron’s performance at the Olympics was watered down a little and we must remember his gold set the tone and inspired the rest of the SA athletes,” said Riddin.

“We want people to acknowledge him and he is in an event where he will swim the whole distance doing breaststroke to raise funds for the Cancer Association.”

American open-water swimmer Craig Dietz, who has no arms or legs, has inspired the province since he arrived in the country to participate.

Chad Gifford, who lost both legs in a car accident, swims in the 8 Mile Club and, defying any age limitations, Lorna Cochrane hopes to become the oldest official finisher aged 89.

Mike Arbuthnot keeps his record intact of swimming at every event, as does Gail Bristow who, since women were officially allowed to enter the race in 1975, has never missed a race.

Maritzburg College celebrates its 150th year with a special College swim today at 1.15 pm. Participants will receive a commemorative swimming cap.

Even the SA Navy gets a look in, with about 75 members swimming the Mile. A Navy craft and crew are patrolling the waters, ensuring safety for the swimmers.

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