Midmar Mile: 89-year-old woman one of thousands to complete the race in ideal conditions
11 Feb 2013
PERFECT weather and ideal water conditions saw the 40th aQuellé Midmar Mile delight thousands of competitors and supporters at the weekend.
Among the stars was American Craig Dietz, born with no arms and legs, who completed his first Midmar to warm applause, reaching shore in just over 37 minutes.
Said Dietz: “My time wasn’t that great, but the swim was. It was incredible having so many people around me and despite the odd bump and nudge it was terrific.” He even had time to enjoy the view from the water and returned for his second mile yesterday morning.
Lorna Cochran achieved her ambition of being the oldest swimmer to swim the mile at 89. She was joined by family members as she beat the record set by Colin Cable in 1999.
Maritzburg College old boy and Athens 2004 gold medal Olympian Darian Townsend had a stellar day on the water, winning the non-company mile and the special Maritzburg College mile, added to the programme to celebrate the school’s 150th anniversary.
The College event drew 140 swimmers, many of them old boys. Among them were brothers Jake and Calvin Adam who, despite being muscular lads who coach and play rugby, admitted they were “buggered” after their swim.
One of the biggest moments of the weekend was seeing Mike “Buth” Arbuthnot, a founder member of the mile who has never missed an event, finish his 79th mile on Saturday and his 80th, in his 80th year, yesterday.
“I am a bit tired but it was enjoyable and conditions were great. It’s an unbelievable event and as long as I can still find the strength to swim, I will be back every year,” he said.
A College old boy, Buth said he was proud of the school’s connection with the race and honoured to have swum in the school’s commemorative race.
All the while, the gold caps of the 8-Mile Club swimmers kept coming through, the elite 50 members swimming every mile to raise worthy funds for charity.
Mervyn Bremner added another eight miles to his already impressive 102 and looked fit and strong after every race.
“It’s going well and I feel good,” he said after his seventh finish of the weekend.
Joining these tough fundraisers were the swimmers in pink supporting the Pink Drive, raising funds for cancer and breast cancer testing.
London Olympic gold medallist Cameron van der Burgh was another favourite with the crowd, swimming his mile doing breaststroke and also supporting the Pink Drive.
“This was lekker. Initially I thought a mile was way too far compared to what I am used to, but I really enjoyed the swim. It’s amazing how relaxed you feel when there is no competition and expectations to perform hanging over your head,” he said
Familywise, the Fairs dominated the family mile, Neil winning in one of the strongest swims seen at Midmar, with brothers Ryan and Evan and sister Carmen among the top finishers.
Perhaps the final word can go to former mile winner, Springbok swimmer and coach of Chad le Clos, Graham Hill, who said: “It’s a South African tradition and a world-class event. Wayne Riddin and his Seals Swimming Club always put on an outstanding event and, while it gets bigger every year, it’s great for swimming, putting the sport firmly on the map.”
Organisers were still confirming whether a new Guinness World Record had been set.
Paddlers bring drama to the action
DAY one began not with swimming but with paddling in the inaugural Dusi Dash, where a number of top paddlers vying for next weekend’s Dusi title lined up for a mile dash for R8 000.
There was drama at the end as leader of the race, Hank McGregor, was T-boned from behind by Len Jenkins, metres from the finish, both boats capsizing. Cam Schoeman, who had stayed slightly off the pair on a different line, screamed through on the inside to take the spoils ahead of Dusi champ Andy Birkett and Czech Jakub Adam.
Tension ran high as McGregor reached shore enraged at what had happened.
In the women’s race, Tiffany Kruger pocketed the cash, ahead of Anna Adamova (Czech) and leading Dusi hopeful Abby Adie.