Historic River Mile turns 92

2016-02-17 06:00

THIS weekend sees Nelson Mandela Bay play host to Africa’s oldest open water swimming event when the SPAR River Mile Festival takes place at Cannonville on the Sunday’s River this Saturday and Sunday between 8am and 5pm.

Having started in Redhouse in 1924 this will be the 92nd running of the River Mile with the event having evolved into a festival of sporting events which not only includes the Mile swims for Men and Ladies but also a Double Mile, Disabled Mile, a half-mile and a kids across the river race for those 12 years and under who aren’t taking part in the Mile events.

Also included in the festival this weekend is a 5km fun run, 10km MTB and 30 MTB race.

Following the conclusion of the EC Swim Series on Sunday morning, the stand-out favourite to capture both the double Mile and Men’s Mile titles has to be Pearson High School scholar Ian Venter who claimed both the 3km and 5km NMBA open water swimming titles over the past two weekends.

Also winning the OWS double at the EC Swim Series was Amica de Jager, from St Francis Bay, who has yet to enter the SPAR River Mile but will certainly give defending champion Hannah Haswell a tough time this year. For info go to www.rivermile.co.za.

Jendamark Bellbuoy entries closing

Late entries for next weekend’s epic 5km Jendamark Bellbuoy Challenge sea swim came into effect on Tuesday with just over 80 swimmers from around the country having entered already. Given the preparation and water safety precautions taken for this swim, no late entries are accepted after 4pm on Thursday, February 25.

A full race briefing, meet and greet session for all participants takes place on Friday 26th from 6pm-7pm at News Cafe. The race starts at 8.30am from Pollok Beach and is always a great spectacle as the swimmers set off to round the nautical bellbuoy positioned 2.5km off Pollok Beach.

Swimmers line up in one of two categories available for this event, the wetsuit category and the swimsuit category which is based on the English channel swimwear ruling.

With Jendamark having put up R37 000 in prize money, expect some tough competition.

For the first time in the history of the event, both categories carry equal prize money with the winners snatching R4 000 each. Defending swimsuit champion Byron Lockett has not registered for this year but defending wetsuit champion Ian Venter has and will be hard to beat as he is in exceptional form this season having already snatched the NMBA open water swimming 3km and 5km titles this month.

“It’s been great winning the two NMBA titles on Sunday and the week before and I am keen to try and take the double at the River Mile this weekend by winning the Saturday’s Double Mile and Sunday’s Mile races ahead of the Bellbuoy swim next Saturday,” said Venter after his 5km win on Sunday at Settlers Dam.

Also in the mix will be 2015 Swimsuit runner-up Daniel Jones who is definitely no walk-over and another to watch will be Pretoria Masters swimmer Gary Albertyn.

In the ladies’ category, one swimmer to watch in her debut swim will be Albertyn’s wife, Megan. Both Gary and Megan won their age groups at last Sunday’s aQuellé Midmar Mile, as well as winning the Family swim with their son and daughter.

See www.bellbuoychallenge.co.za for info.

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