The Midmar Mile was swum for the first time in 1974 when local swimmers decided to stage a Mile open water race in Natal. They were unable to compete in the Buffalo river Mile in East London due to national petrol restrictions. Open water races were not yet as popular as they are today, but there was a long history of such events, with the Redhouse River Mile dating back to 1924, held near Port Elizabeth in the Swartkops river. These races were usually popular with local swimming clubs with a winning club trophy usually being awarded.
By the time Midmar Mania had set in around the country, many schools and clubs were sending teams of swimmers to compete. At some point the clubs were replaced in the competition by 'company' teams, allowing any group of people to compete as a 'company', although club swimmers still enter under their club names.
One hundred and fifty-three male competitors entered the first event, with the youngest swimmer being 10 years old. Victory went to Trevor Strydom, with Owen Ryan and Martin Godfrey finishing second and third. A feature of the Midmar Mile is that the actual distance of the race varies according to the water levels in the Midmar dam.
Men’s Winner Trevor Strydom
Women’s Winner unofficial entries
No. of Men 153
No. of Women 0 (official)
Total Entries 153
Who would have thought those petrol restrictions in 1973 would initiate the events that eventually led to the first ever Midmar Mile swim on Sunday 10 February 1974?
Mike Arbuthnot, Dick Park and Brian Glover were unable to travel as far as East London to compete in the Buffalo Mile in 1973 due to the restrictions and they decided that a similar race be organised in Natal. Midmar Dam was chosen as the venue, which certainly has proved a popular choice. 153 swimmers entered the inaugural race in 1974 with the youngest competitor being 10 years old.
Trevor Strydom, who eventually went on to represent South Africa at pentathlon, took the first victory with Owen Ryan and Martin Godfrey not too far off the pace for the next two positions.
A year after the first event, in 1975, the first women's entries were received, but were viewed as unofficial. Debbie McLaren was the first women's winner with Boenie Chalmers (now Bees) the runner-up. Connie Fritsch (8 years old) entered her first mile and her experience would come through in later years. Wayne Riddin, now the convenor of the Midmar Mile and coach of the powerful Seals Swimming Club, as well as a a former national coach, won the men's event, smashing the record by over three minutes. Three swimmers dropped out of the race.
Natal Springbok swimmer Karen Fritsch.
The entries almost doubled in 1976 with the organisers putting a one-hour time limit on the swim. Six hundred and thirty-four swimmers started the race, which was once again dominated by Riddin. Linda Jardin claimed the women's win by less than a metre over Natal Springbok swimmer Karin Fritsch.
Nine swimmers failed to finish out of the 634 with Riddin taking his second victory ahead of the late Dave McCarney who went on to represent South Africa in triathlon before he tragically lost his life while training on his bike. A close race developed in the women’s event where Linda Jardin, who specialised in breaststroke, surprised many to pip Karin Fritsch by 0,9seconds. Boenie Bees was third.
The following year the number of entries topped 1 000 for the first time as many top swimmers gave the race their attention. Springbok Paul Blackbeard beat fellow Springbok distance freestyler Brett Daviews by only 0,8 seconds in a running race over the line while 400m freestyle specialist Peter le Roux was third. Two-time winner Wayne Riddin relegated to fourth after hesitating at the start and struggling to swim out of the crowds. 33 seconds separated the first four. Felow Natal Springbok Karin Fritsch made up for her narrow loss the previous year with her first victory ahead of Gaye Harker and Nikki Nattrass.
National backstroke champion Jacques Marais claimed victory, beating Wayne Riddin's into second and Natailian Quirin Kohler in third place. Rhodesian Caroline Wylde lifted the women's title. Karin Fritsch failed to make the start on time because of a puncture and had to swim in an unofficial capacity alongside the men. Tercia Krogman and L Kliegel followed. The event attracted 1426 entries and newspapers then began referring to the Midmar Mile as the “largest single swim event in the country”. 904 were men and 522 women.
With the number of entries nearing the 2 000 mark, Jacques Marais successfully defended his title, while Karin Fritsch avoided any mishaps on the way to the race and reclaimed the women's crown, with her sister Connie Fritsch finishing second. Third place went to club mate Sharon Bentley.
The number of entrants leapt to 2 500 in 1980, prompting organisers to raise the question of qualification requirements for 1981. One of the Gray brothers - Springbok swimmers all - Nicky Gray - finished first, ahead of Gary Brinkman and Springbok surf lifesaver Julian Taylor. Tricia Butcher, at only 15 years of age, won the women's event. Tricia stole the limelight from the women by racing across the dam in a record time 18 min 13 seconds - beating fellow Springboks Karin Fritsch and Susan Erasmus to the line. Tricia's time was faster than Nicky Gray's winning time in the men's event.The Springbok swimmer was to dominate the mile over the next three years in succession before taking up a scholarship in the USA.
Springbok swimmer and surf lifesaver Nicky Gray
The event was dominated by the two Natal Springbok distance freestyle champions. Gary Brinkman, runner-up to Nicky Gray the previous year, was victorious this time around, Brent Coetsee and Brian Tatterson followed him. Tricia Butcher successfully defended her title, again ahead of Karin Fritsch with sister Connie again snatching a third place.
The number of entries topped the 3 000 mark, which led to a new format at the start, with swimmers divided into groups according to age. Event 1 placed the girls and boys under 14 years, the men and women 31 years and older and all Ironmen entries together. This was followed with all men (14-30 years) in event 2 and later all women (14-30 years) in event 3. The introduction of a time limit of 50 minutes came this year. There was also a reduction in the time allowed to complete the raise, down by 10 minutes to 50 minutes.
Tricia Butcher became the first woman to win the Mile three times (in succession and in total) and this time round had to defend her title against her sister, Susan. Gail Jeffrey was third.
Another dramatic finish developed with Gary Brinkman beating the late Anton van Niekerk, probably one of the most versatile Springboks ever, in a dash to the line for his second victory. Springbok Hugh Ross was third. Brinkman also left for the USA on scholarship before being able to attempt his third victory.
Springbok Gary Brinkman won three titles at the South African championships held in Pretoria in 1982, before taking up a scholarship to swim at Southern Illinois University.
Vance Sterley, winner of the boy's under-14 title in 1980, became the first swimmer to win at both that and the men's level. The first of many Transvaal names began to emerge with Stuart Cromarty finishing second ahead of Pierre Snoep.
Springbok Sue Erasmus bettered her 3rd place in 1980 with a victory in 1983, followed by Gail Jeffrey and Lauren Brukman. Tricia Butcher was unable to defend her title as she was overseas on a scholarship in the United States.
1984 - Graham Hill and Lee Pennefather
In 1984 Springbok swimmer and lifesaver Graham Hill won the race. A close race developed with Hill stealing the honours by 0,8 seconds from Hugh Ross. Craig Jackson, a 1992 Olympic representative, was third. In the women’s race Lee Pennefather’s victory foiled Gail Jeffrey’s hopes of a title and she had to be satisfied with another runner-up berth. Transvaal’s Lisa Poole was third.
Graham Hill won a record seven titles at the 1985 South African swimming championships.and he added another Midmar Mile title to his victory of the previous year. Second was Craig Jackson with Shaun Rivalland third - the man who was to cause an upset and have many believing there is a hoodoo on the men’s event. Debbie Wade edged in ahead of title defender Lee Pennefather while Lisa Poole secured her third place once again.
In 1986 Graham Hill attempted to do what no other man had done, win the Midmar Mile three times. However, he couldn't get it right as Shaun Rivalland, third the year before, who took line honours. With more than 3200 entries and very cold weather, Shaun Rivalland turned the tables on Graham Hill and Craig Jackson, relegating them by a position from the previous year to stop Hill becoming the first male to win three times in a row.
Debbie Wade and Lee Pennefather also dropped a position each from 1985 as another Springbok, Petro Nortje, claimed her first women’s title after winning the girls under 14 section in 1984 and 1985.
The term “Midmar Mile Mania” emerged in 1987 with more than 3500 entries. New names surfaced from the dam with only Graham Hill a familiar face, but only in third place. Craig Lilford beat Alan Lonsdale while in the women’s race Hayley Bertram took her first title ahead of Yvonne Blake and Uta Fritsch in the women’s event.
The following year, with entries nearing 4 000, Lonsdale improved on his runner-up finish of 1987 to win the men's race. Durban University student Simon Lessing, later to become the world triathlon champion while competing for Great Britain, finished second. In the women's event, Hayley Bertram took her second victory, ahead of M Jackson and B Kapp.
Another wet year in 1989 with much drama. Entries declined to approximately 3700 and Hayley Bertram was not allowed to swim as her entry arrived late. Two swimmers raced onto the slipway only to be disqualified from the women’s event - they competed in another swimmer’s place, which is not allowed. Debbie Hope was declared the winner with Keryn Henwood and Sarah Walter following. Until 1989 the Midmar Mile had been dominated by Natal lifesaving and swimming champions - Gray, Blackbeard, Hill, Butcher, Fritsch were all Natal Springboks, but in 1987 the men's winner was Andrew O'Flaherty of Transvaal beat Alan Lonsdale and Warren Cronje.
A record field with just over 4000 and Natasha Figge recorded her first official victory. She proved to be in a league of her own until her retirement after her 1995 victory. K McIver and Sarah Walter were 2nd and 3rd respectively. This time Alan Lonsdale edged out Andrew O’Flaherty while 3rd placed John Velloza gained as much experience as he could for the next year.
1991 - Natasha Figge and John Velloza
John Velloza won by 0,62 seconds in 1991 from Manie Wessels with Dylan Botha 3rd and O’Flaherty 4th. It was a bumper year with 4890 entries and the dam 100% full. Natasha Figge out swam the women with Janion Fraser and Bianca Duxbury adding to the Transvaal domination.
Natalians failed to make an impact on the event for many years as the entries steadily increased due to the spreading of Midmar Mania.
In 1992 Springbok Paul Fryer kept the title in the Transvaal with an 8 second victory over Dylan Botha. Another Transvaler, Brynn Andrew, was 3rd. Natasha Figge recorded her 3rd victory with Paula Humphreys and Birget Haver following.
A new organising committee and the introduction of the seeding system. 4400 entries were received and the event was computerised for the first time.
The next year Fryer totally dominated the event, recording the largest ever victory margin of one minute and three seconds, ahead of Gregg Pietersen in 2nd with Matthew Gibbs 3rd. The story stayed the same in the women's race, with Figge making it victory number four in a row - eclipsing the three in a row won by Tricia Butcher in 1980-82 . Michaela Pridmore and Sarah van den Berg in 2nd and 3rd place respectively.
Times were slower this year, as the course had to be altered to accommodate the low level of the dam. The start was moved to the Morgenzon campsite and therefore slightly longer than other years at approximately 200 metres further.
Two Orange Free Staters coached by Simon Gray in Bloemfontein, world ranked freestyler Ryk Neethling and Lourens Appelgyn, relegated the defending champion Paul Fryer to third spot. Natasha Figge added added a fifth title to her collection. Janion Fraser taking 2nd and Bronwyn Roux 3rd for yet another clean sweep from Transvaal. A record breaking 5027 entries were received.
Ryk Neethling took advantage of the lower level of the dam to set the fastest time ever over the course, Ryno Markgraaf followed Neethling with Anthony Rocchi 3rd in the men. Natasha Figge won for a sixth time - equalling the record number of wins held in the women's race by Tricia Butcher. Robyn Bradley was 2nd behind Figge and Sheona Lottering 3rd.
Gareth Fowler emerged the new winner after an interesting tussle with Clinton Holroyd and Carl Storm. Ryk Neethling was away concentrating on the 1996 Olympic Games. Natasha Figge was no longer competing, paving the way for Sheona Lottering to add the women’s title to her girls under 14 title (1994). Alison Walker took second with 1995 girls U14 winner, Donna Leslie, finishing third.
A record 6925 swimmers complete the mile!
Fowler took his second title in 1997 after a similar race developed, this time with Gustav Stander and Clinton Holroyd, finishing in that order. Robyn Bradley improved on her 2nd place in 1995 with an outstanding victory ahead of Sheona Lottering and Donna Leslie.
The Midmar Mile turned 25 in 1998, and for the first time an international star won the event. Germany's Olympic bronze medallist Jorg Hoffman, a former world champion over 400 metres and 1 500 metres, powered to victory in the second-fastest time in the race's history. Hoffmann surged early in the race to break away from South African swimmers Anthony Rocchi and previous double winner Gareth Fowler. The German hit the finish slipway in 17 minutes 53seconds, the second fastest time to our world ranked double winner Ryk Neethling. Rocchi followed 31 seconds later and Fowler another 35 seconds later.
Donna Leslie snatched victory from Bronwyn Dedekind in a thrilling finish to the women's event.
In the women 14-30 years event, it was a two way battle with emerging stars Donna Leslie and Bronwyn Dedekind as they stood up on the slipway at virtually the same time. Leslie dashed over the line just a metre ahead of Dedekind to claim the title. Sheona Lottering was also not far behind just eight seconds later after being up with Leslie and Dedekind for much of the way.
The girls under 14 section had a surprise winner in the dimunitive Katia Taylor from Johannesburg. She took the title by one minute from 12-year-old Melanie Greyling and Jacquiline Hulley in 20 min 57 sec. The hard working Anton Storm was the victor in the boys under 14 years in 21 min 13 sec ahead of Daniel Born and Troyden Prinsloo. In the more senior categories, Terry Downes kept up his winning streak in the men 41-50 years ahead of Ted Townsend and Alan van Lingen while Rita Townsend looks set for a domination of the women 41-50 years. Springbok Bev McCarney still has a few years to go in the women 31-40 years and is likely to continue her victory surge.
The over 50 category saw Derek Kuhlmey and Anne Jones victorious again in the men and women respectively while Howick’s Dulcie Clark at 76 years and Cape Town’s Colin Cable at 87 years were the oldest female and male finishers respectively.
The entry for the anniversary event was a record 9 600.
In 1999 over 10 000 swimmers finished the Midmar Mile for the first time in the race's history.
"AWESOME", was United States Masters swimmer Jim Lilley’s comment after the 1999 Midmar Mile held at Midmar Dam on Sunday 14 February. The 38-year-old Ft Lauderdale flight attendant made his debut in the men 31-40 years event among the boy’s 13 years and under and had a great race with young Troyden Prinsloo (13). Jim Lilley managed to run out the water to become the first international winner of event 2.
The introduction of incentives at the 400m, 800m and 1200m Ola buoys provided ample excitement for the men and women 14-30 years, resulting in the closest finishes among the top 10. Pietermaritzburg Seals swimmer, Bronwyn Dedekind (17), lead from the start to pick up the R400, R800 and R1200 at the ‘hotspots’ and the R1600 overall prize purse to swim away with a total of R4000 for her 20 min 23 sec race. Clubmate Sheona Lottering bagged the R750 runner-up berth while Kloof’s Wendy Henstock took the third placed R250.
Gauteng distance teenager Jana Doyle was not far off the pace to edge out visiting British 5km open water champion Paula Wood. A three-man tussle developed in the men’s 14-30 year main race with the talented Commonwealth Games finalist Terence Parkin, Rob Mackay and Carl Storm on each other’s heels.
Seagulls star Parkin lead through the 400m and 800m Ola buoys to take the ‘hotspots’ before Wanderers distance specialist Mackay aimed at the R1200 purse at the 1200m mark. The two pushed hard only to cross the line together and share the spoils – and soon after the mark South African Junior triathlete Storm attempted to break away.
Only Mackay managed to respond to the Storm breakaway as Parkin settled in for the third place and an additional R250 to add to his R1800 incentives along route. Mackay hit the slipway first in 19 min 03 sec to take the R1600 overall prize for a total of R2200 while Storm took the R750 second place just seven seconds off the pace.
Behind the trio was Gauteng’s Kenneth Smith in 4th place with a fast finishing David Fytche taking the 5th spot. British 5km open water champion Fytche, like teammate Wood in the women’s event, found the pace early in the race a little too fast and perhaps needed another mile to make more of an impact. Carl Storm lead home an unusual feat with brothers Anton in 7th place and Brad in 9th place setting a record of their own for a great performance by one family.
In the opening company event to start proceedings, former world ranked 100 m freestyler and current professional Gladiator, Marieka Theunissen, outswam the opposition to clock up an outstanding 20 min 30 sec in really rough conditions. She would certainly have been a threat in the main race, which was won by Dedekind.
Competitors completing the Mile swim in 1999 experienced probably the roughest conditions in the 26-year history of the event. However, despite the wet and rainy day as well, there were the least ‘drop-outs’ as a record 10 045 swimmers earned themselves a valentine’s finishing medal.
An amazing feat was accomplished by the Storm brothers in the men's event, with Carl claiming second, Anton seventh and Brad ninth.
Olympians Terence Parkin and Charlene Wittstock - August 2000
Victory in 2000 went to Terence Parkin in a fast 18min 46sec ahead of previous double winner Gareth Fowler by just two seconds, stopping him from becoming the first male to win three times. Parkin went on that year to win silver in the 200 metres breaststroke at the Olympic Games in Sydney. Third place went to 1999 winner Rob Mackay. Gladiator Marieka Theunissen returned to competitive open water swimming to win the main women’s race in 20min 02sec with 1999 winner Bronwyn Dedekind second and Desiree Martin third.
2001: Neethling the first man to win three
Ryk Neethling showed some tremendous strength over the final 300m to edge Sydney silver medalist Terrence Parkin take the Ola 2001 Midmar Mile in a time of 19 minutes 27 seconds after a dramatic last sprint with top swimmers taking numerous lines in to the finish line.
Ryk felt that his main threat was always going to be from Parkin. 'I decided to stay with Terrence as I know that he's a big strong guy and would be the one to beat. I sat on his shoulder and waited until we came into the final section of the race and then gave it my all. I really didn't know where everyone else was other than Terrence.' Neethling became the first 3 time winner of the event after his previous victories in 1994 and his record breaking victory in 1995. 'I'll definitely be back again and hopefully next time there will be some top international swimmers here as well.'
In the women's race, Hungary's 15-year-old Diana Hegedus was involved in a tremendous tussle with Olympian Melissa Corfe, who was coached by Graham Hill at the Seagulls SC in Durban. Hedegus put in a huge final 200m and took victory after swimming stroke for stroke with Durban's pre-race favorite Melissa Corfe in the women’s event. Unfortunately 2000 winner Marieka Theunissen was ill and did not compete as she opted for the 5km event the next day to qualify for the World Championships.
Neethling was unable to defend his title in 2002 when Terence Parkin claimed his second victory.
The races were certainly among the best ever with Terence Parkin, Gareth Fowler, Troyden Prinsloo, Geoff Norton and Anton Storm in the thick of things. But it was Parkin who stopped a determined Fowler from becoming the second male competitor from winning a third title along with Ryk Neethling. Just 2 seconds separated the two clubmates as they raced across the line with Parkin now putting himself in line to win a third title in 2003 after his superb victory in similar circumstances in 2000.
The women’s main race proved to be another exciting dash for cash across the line. While Hungarian Diana Hegedus repeated her victory from 2001, it was young Cheryl Townsend who set the pace for most of the way only to have Hegedus edge ahead on the final 100m to win by 5 seconds.
Race favourite Melissa Corfe did not have a comfortable race and ended up racing for the minor placings with the para-Olympian Natalie du Toit competing in her first Midmar Mile. Corfe passed Du Toit up the slipway and at the prize giving awarded her third place to the Capetonian.
Near perfect weather conditions aided to the best event to date in the 30 years history of the Midmar Mile. Gareth Fowler (23) who had the biggest smile as he caused a major upset to win the main men’s event and become the second male next to Ryk Neethling to win the men’s event a third time. Fowler had to overcome a strong challenge from Shaun Dias at the end and his two previous defeats by Terence Parkin saw him turn the tables on Dias to get the better exit from the water and sprint to the finish line. Troyden Prinsloo swam extremely wide out on the right hand side of the course and this turned out his downfall as he came through in third place, matching his previous year’s result.
Melissa Corfe was in a league of her own in the main women’s event and she managed to lead from the start to the finish, accumulating all the hotspots and the winner’s prize to take home her best pay day to date, R9800.
Cheryl Townsend repeated her 2002 performance as she raced home second after taking the far left hand route that surely would have disadvantaged her. Last year’s winner, Diana Hegadus from Hungary, had to be content with the third place this year while another outstanding result came from Belarus visitor Alena Popchanka, who finished 4th on her debut swim.
Popchanka and her teammate Anna Scherba are currently training at the Seals High Performance centre until the Telkom SA Championships in April. Both are ranked in the top three in the world with Popchanka having won the 100m freestyle at the Paris World Cup and Scherba finished second in the 200m IM at the same meet.
In the junior ranks, young Bianca Meyer repeated her easy victory in the girls 13 years and under category as did Nicola Durrheim (31-40) and Rita Townsend (41-50) while Marissa Rollnick took her first 51 years and over title in her first appearance in the new age division. The boys 13 years and under proved the closest race with young Riaan Schoeman overtaking Chad Ho on the exit out the water to snatch the victory with the top 6 just 8 seconds apart.
Darryl Cronje (35) mixed it most of the way with the juniors but fell off the pace right at the end to win the 31-40 years section and end in 7th position overall. A new name emerged in the victory ranks in the 41-50 years section as Mike Semple (45) edged out Phillip Chappel (41) and last year’s winner Greg Price (42). It was again Terry Downes (53) who triumphed in the 51 years and over category with Peter Bees (51) following some 30 second later.
2004 brought yet another record entry, this time 16 124. Peter Stanayk took victory in the men's race in 17:13, coming home seven seconds ahead of second placed Troyden Prinsloo, with former winner Gareth Fowler in third place. There were some big names slightly lower down the finish list: 2000 Olympic silver medal winner in the 200 metres breaststroke, Terence Parkin, ended fifth, while Darian Townsend claimed seventh place. Later in the year he would be part of the South African 4 by 100 metres freestyle relay team that smashed the world record at the Athens Olympic to win gold.
Former South African and now British Olympian Keri-Anne Payne won the women's race in a superb 17:40, heading off rising distance star Melissa Corfe for the title. Cheryl Townsend ended third.
In 2005, Troyden Prinsloo won the race for the first time. He finished in 18 minutes and 28 seconds as the course was at its longest distance ever, covering 1 639 metres. Dutch swimmer Maarten van der Weidien came home in second, with Gareth Fowler in third. In 2008, Van der Weidien won gold in the open water 10-kilometre swim at the Olympic Games. Victory in the women's race again went to Keri-Anne Payne, as the South African-born British athlete held off Dutch 25 kilometre open water champion Edith van Dijk and Melissa Corfe of South Africa.
Both Prinsloo and Payne were successful in their title defences in 2006, with both swimmers winning in record times. Prinsloo crossed the finish line in 17 minutes and 47 seconds, with Australia's Kurtis McGillivary in second and Chad Ho in third. In the women's race, Australia's Melissa Gorman ended second, with Payne's teammate Cassie Patten taking third.
The 2007 Midmar Mile will always draw both praise and criticism after the final men’s event was cancelled due to extreme weather conditions. Safety first has always been a priority at Midmar Dam, and this time many were perhaps shocked at the decision that needed to be taken to ensure no life was lost. Troy Prinsloo had returned from the U SA to defend his title, but was unable to do so.
2007 will also be remembered as the year belonging to the international swimmers as Australian visitor Melissa Gorman (21) won the women’s title against formidable opposition that included three-time winner from Britain, Kerri-Anne Payne, her British training partner Cassie Patten and South Africa’s hope, Mellissa Corfe. Only 68 seconds separated the top eight swimmers as Gorman improved on her second place the previous year to lead home a chasing Corfe and Payne within 20 seconds. But it had been Corfe who set the pace from the start to the 1200m hotspot until Gorman made her move.
A brilliant swim came from Hungarian Rita Kovacs (37) among the top woman. She won the women 31-40 years just two races earlier before taking on her younger opposition in the main race to finish 7th.
It was another Hungarian domination in the girls 13 years and under event with Anna Olasz and Barbara Nagyi taking the first two positions.
In the older categories, former Springbok swimmer Bev McCarney took the women 41-50 years while Heather Campbell and Anne Jones took the women 51-60 years and women 61 years and over titles.
The oldest lady to finish was Lorna Cochran at 83 years.
Among the men that did get to complete the earlier event saw Hungarian David Sibalin successful while Terry Heller caused a surprise in the 31-40 years, Greg Price continued to dominate the 41-50 years as did Ted Townsend and Paul Lanterme the 51-60 years and 61 years and over categories respectively.
The oldest man to finish was Roy Rees at 83 years.
The men's title in 2008 was decided in a sprint finish as Shaun Dias exited the water just ahead of Chad Ho and held him off in a dash for the line after a tremendous tussle across the dam, which saw the pair matching each other stroke for stroke over the final 400 metres. Hungarian swimmer Csabo Gersack captured third place.
The women's title went Hungary's way as Erika Hajnal chose a similar line to that taken by 2007 winner Melissa Gorman to once again consign Melissa Corfe to a second place finish. Remarkably, Corfe paid for following a similar course to the one she had adopted in 2007. Hajnal finished in 20:27, with Corfe just three seconds back after a fierce finishing burst. Third place went to Melanie Greyling in 21:48.
The feature races were loaded with Olympians and the women's title went to Beijing Olympic Games 10-kilometre Open Water silver medal winner Kerri-Anne Payne, who captured the title for the fourth time in 18:48. Germany's Nadine Pastor took second place, three seconds behind Payne, with Hungary's Evaline Verralzto finishing third. The top South African finisher was Melissa Corfe, who ended fourth, one place ahead of Cassie Patten, the bronze medal winner in the open water swimming race in Beijing.
After a fantastic finish in the men's race, it took 45 minutes before race organisers were able to declare SA Olympian Riaan Schoeman the winner. Both he and Hungary's David Verraszto were timed in 17:34. Chad Ho finished third, while defending champion Shaun Dias managed only seventh place in a highly talented field.
In 2009, the organisers decided it was time that the Midmar Mile received official recognition as the world's largest open water swimming event, and contacted the Guinness Book of World Records to make this happen. The tough economic conditions experienced around the world meant the rate of entries was slow until a last-minute spurt lifted the number to about 16 000. The 13 755 finishers secured a place for the Midmar Mile in the Guinness Book of World Records, along with the 3 110 finishers – the most yet – in a single event, the Non-Company relay.
The men's race proved to be one of the closest in the 37-year history of the event, with six competitors spread in a line, matching one another stroke for stroke, with only 200 metres to go. Chad Ho, who had become the first South African to win an open water swimming World Championships medal in 2009, edged ahead right at the finish to take victory in 18:39. Great Britain's Dan Fogg was second in 18:40 and defending champion Riaan Schoeman third in 18:42.
The women's race was dominated by the British open water swimming team. Keri-Anne Payne, the world champion over 10 kilometres, added a fifth Midmar Mile title to her list of achievements, stopping the clock in 19:24. Katy Whitfield, who had led up until 1 300 metres, finished second in 19:27, with Cassie Patten in third place in 19:30. Kathryn Meaklim was South Africa's top finisher, in sixth place, in 19:40.
In 2011, Chad Ho produced a very impressive swim to fend off a strong challenge from the British national team to successfully defend his men's title in 18:27. David Davies, swimming on the opposite side of the course to Ho, finished in second, 11 seconds off the winning time, with another Briton Alfie Howes taking third in 18:47.
Keri-Anne Payne turned in a stunning performance in the women's race. She surged into the lead early on and maintained a fast stroke pace to pull well clear of her nearest challengers. She won all three hot spots on her way to victory in an excellent 18:51. Cassie Patten and Charlotte Wooliscraft finished in the other podium positions to give Britain a 1-2-3 finish. Michelle Weber, in fourth, was the leading South African.
With Midmar Dam looking spectacular at 100 percent full, and the dam wall overflowing, another very successful event took place in 2012. It will be best remembered for a superb dice for the women's title and record-setting swims by the men's and women's champions. Chad Ho dominated the men's race in choppy conditions to take victory in 18 minutes and 48 seconds, ahead of Troyden Prinsloo and Italian Federico Colalbertaldo. That made him the first man in 39 years to manage three wins in succession.
Keri-Anne Payne, meanwhile, was involved in a dice for the ages against American Ashley Twichell. They were neck-and-neck through all three hotspots at 400, 800, and 1 200 metres, but Payne eventually opened up a slight lead with the end in sight to win by just under two seconds in 20 minutes and 44 seconds. Briton Danielle Hall-Jackson placed third. Rene Warnes, in fifth, was the first of the South African finishers. With her win, Payne broke open a tie with Natasha Panzera (neé Figge) to become the most successful swimmer in the history of the Midmar Mile with seven victories to her name.
The Midmar Mile celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2013 with another massive entry. Event founder, Mike "Buthy" Arbuthnot, swam two miles to take his tally to 80 miles at the age of 80, while Gail Bristow, an unofficial entrant when women were not allowed in the first year of the event, swam the Midmar Mile for a 39th year. Chad Ho dominated the men's race to win for a fourth year in a row, winning in 17:57, with Troy Prinsloo, an Olympian in the 10km open water swim in London, in second and Danie Marias in third.
American Ashley Twichell, second to Keri-Anne Payne in 2012, turned the tables on the seven-time champion, who was a little under-prepared, to score a convincing victory in 19:04, 17 seconds clear of the British star. World junior champion over five kilometres, Michelle Weber was the first South African finisher, in third place, with Hungarian pool star Katinka Hosszu in fourth. Limbless American open water swimmer Craig Dietz stole the show by swimming a mile on Saturday and a second on Sunday.
Visit the Midmar Mile website for further details
A number of people who have been involved with the this event since 1974.
Gail McCarney Bristow with her brother David McCarney - at a younger age. By 2016 Gail had swum 42 events, in the first event in 1974, ladies were not included in the event and they only started in 1975 and Gail has swum every year since.
Mike Arbuthnot, pictured here in 2012 with race director Wayne Riddin, and Mike Pengelly (below) are the only two people who can say they have swum the Mile every year since its inception 43 years ago. Arbuthnot's 42nd consecutive Midmar Mile swim is a worthy nominee for the 2015 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.
The defending champion, Ashley Twichell, wasted no time in stamping her authority on this race. She took an immediate lead and won convincingly in a time of 19:12. Second and third place went to Marit Anderson and former champion Michelle Weber respectively.
The final and most exciting race of the 2018 aQuellé Midmar Mile got going at 12:15pm, with many top open water swimmers from around the world ready to battle it out. Despite not following an ideal line to the finish, Russian visitor Kirill Abrosimov was the first man out of the water, taking the gold in a time of 18:56. Second place was so hotly contested between Ashley Hogg and former champion Chad Ho that the decision of who was second and who was third had to be decided by a team of judges. Ultimately, second place went to Ashley Hogg and third place to Chad Ho – both in a time of 19:08.