14 000 swimmers expected at Midmar

Swimmers (from left) Ashley Hogg of Britain, 1977 Midmar champion Paul Blackbeard, seven-time winner Chad Ho, Bailey Hairsine of Britain and Olympian and 2016 Midmar champion Michelle Weber are all ready for this year’s Midmar Mile.Read more on page 18PHOTO: Moeketsi Mamane
Swimmers (from left) Ashley Hogg of Britain, 1977 Midmar champion Paul Blackbeard, seven-time winner Chad Ho, Bailey Hairsine of Britain and Olympian and 2016 Midmar champion Michelle Weber are all ready for this year’s Midmar Mile.Read more on page 18PHOTO: Moeketsi Mamane

It's all systems go for the 47th edition of the Midmar Mile set for this weekend as the water quality, which had been a serious concern, has been deemed perfectly safe.

The world’s largest open water swimming event will start on Saturday and is set for an entertaining end on Sunday.

With 2020 being an Olympic year, this year’s Midmar Mile promises to be a thrilling one with a lot of swimmers aiming to book their tickets to the world showpiece in Tokyo.

On Thursday, race director Wayne Riddin told The Witness they are expecting at least 14 000 swimmers for the event, which surpasses last year’s entries.

“Looking at the dam at the moment most of the marquees are up and [on Friday] the rest of the sponsors will put up their branding. So, by the end of today we would be 100%,” said Riddin.

“We are just over 13 000 at the moment, so we are a bit ahead of last year’s entries. If we can get to 14 000 with the late entries, we would be happy.”

In the build-up to the event, there have been reports that suggested that the water quality at the dam wasn’t safe for anyone to go into the water, let alone trying to swim across it.

Riddin felt the water issue, which became a hot subject after the sewage spill on one side of the dam, has been exaggerated.

“People know that we wouldn’t organise an event if there was any danger to them. The news that went up about the spillage to me was a little bit exaggerated because when that happened, we did do extra testing to check that we were safe,” he said.

“We are sitting with water quality here that is below 10% of what the requirement is. As I’ve always said, I’m prepared to go and drink water from the dam where the swimmers will be swimming, so there shouldn’t be worries.”

Last year’s winners Nick Sloman (men’s) and Kareena Lee (women’s), who are both from Australia, will not be attempting to defend their titles as they are busy with their preparation for the Olympics later this year.

But there’s no shortage of international contenders with 2018 runner-up Ashley Hogg from Britain and speedy American Brendan Casey looking to give South Africa’s Chad Ho competition in his quest for title number eight.

Durban-born Michelle Weber is the favourite to win the women’s race, but she will definitely have tough competition from up-and-coming star Leigh McMorran.


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