THIS weekend sees the showdown of EP’s top open water swimmers as the Nelson Mandela Bay Aquatics (NMBA) Open Water Swim Championships takes place at Marina Martinique. Saturday will feature the NMBA 5km Championships starting at 2pm while Sunday hosts the NMBA 10km Championships at 9am and the 3pm Championships at 12 noon. Other swimming events on offer this weekend will be a 3km swim on Saturday starting at 2:10pm for swimmers requiring an additional 3km qualifying time and on Sunday there will be a 1km and 500m swim, open to all.SA Schools swimming captain and Pearson High School Head Boy Ian Venter heads the standings for this weekend’s 5km swim with a qualifying time of 1hr 1min, but can expect tough competition from Aquabear swim club team mates Credence Pattinson, Slater Black, Nicholas Adam and Cole Craig. NMMU student and BEST swimmer Kirsten Marriott will be looking for the win in the ladies 5km swim, but will have to fight hard against the likes of Woodridge College’s Amica de Jager, PEA’s Jessica Canter and Infinity swimmer Hannah Haswell.Sunday’s 10km swim is expected to feature mostly Western Province swimmers with Liquid Lines swimmers Hadyn Homes and Amica de Jager the only local swimmers to have contested this distance this season. Sunday’s 3km swim will be the showdown of the season with a much anticipated swim-off between Venter, Pattinson, Black and Cullen Biddulph from BEST. Black and Biddulph featured in a fantastic tie during Round 3 towards the end of last year, touching in a time of 37 minutes 58 seconds, while Venter’s best for the season at the Series is 38:04 in a race where he wasn’t pushed to the line.The ladies 3k will be equally as exciting with the eventual winner sure to come from Jessica Beukes, Canter, Payton Horton or Tasneen Ebrahim. Online registration is still available on www.ecswim.co.za with late entries being accepted at the Marina at the weekend.SPAR summer festival heats upEntries for all the events in this year’s SPAR Summer Festival are starting to come in ahead of the events at the end of February. Despite the unavoidable calendar clash with the Herald Cycle Tour, organisers are confident they will achieve a record attendance this year with over 10 family orientated events on offer at the weekend and an array of crowd-pulling festival activities.On Saturday, February 25, the festival will kick off with the Wimpy 5km Family Fun Run followed by a 16km and 42km MTB ride along a new course which is very family-friendly and achievable for all. Saturday afternoon activities will feature the Double Mile, Disabled Mile and Family half-mile swims and will conclude with the new Anything that Floats charity event with all proceeds going to the Smile Foundation. Festival Sunday features the Wakaberry Kids across the River Races and the historic SPAR River Mile with the Ladies Mile starting at 1:30pm and the Men’s Mile at 2:30pm. This year, one lucky Mile swimmer will walk away with R10 000 which is the feature lucky draw of the event.Luister FM will be broadcasting live from the festival at the weekend while the Rotary Club of Port Elizabeth Sunrise is once again hosting the popular Wimpy Rotary Kids Zone and the Castle Lite Beer Garden. Entry into the festival is just R20 per person. The SPAR Summer Festival is presented by SPAR Eastern Cape and supported by aQuellé, Cerebos, Oricol Environmental Services, ADT, Wimpy, Dynamic Express Services, Oracle Media, Wakaberry, Fuze Design and News Cafe, while the Smile Foundation and Rotary are the charities of choice for the Festival. See www.rivermile.co.za for further information or to register for one or more of the events on offer.