Defending Midmar Mile men’s champion Michael McGlynn has confirmed his entry for next month’s swimming showpiece in the Midlands and expects a tough challenge from rivals.
He knows the pressure will be on him, but he is relishing the opportunity to race again when the event takes place under very different circumstances, according to the organisers.
This year, the Midmar Mile is taking place over two consecutive weekends, March 6-7 and March 13-14, to make it safer for all swimmers taking part. McGlynn will be part of a 20-strong field in a specially-arranged elite event on March 7.
Like for all swimmers, it hasn’t been the easiest of build-ups for the 21-year-old, who also has a spot on the South African team to the Tokyo Olympics in his sights.
“Last year, I half qualified for the 2020 Olympics in the 10km open water swim and I couldn’t get to the final round of qualifiers. It was tough because I came off such a high and went straight into a lockdown,” said McGlynn.
That meant trying to train in gym and school pools for a protracted period of time.
“I had to stay in Pretoria for November just to train in a 50m pool. Then I travelled back to Durban for December to race any race possible because I hadn’t done much training. To top it off, I swim distance freestyle, so it became a snowball effect.”
Heading into the Midmar Mile as defending champion, McGlynn is hoping he’s done enough.
“I think it adds more pressure, but I’m happy to be in this race again. Midmar is always that first breakout swim of the year, and where I broke through, so hopefully I can bounce back.”
The event will be different from usual with organisers putting plenty of measures in place to ensure a safe and Covid-compliant event.
Among these measures is the fact that there will be no mass starts as is usually the case.
There will instead be rolling starts with each swimmer’s time being recorded from when they cross the start mat to when they reach the finish.
This means no swimmers will congregate at the start or be in close contact with each other.
Moreover, there will be no spectators allowed.