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Olympians get ready for bumper Midmar Mile

The last three aQuell├® Midmar Mile seeding events ÔÇô one of them in Bloemfontein and two in Johannesburg ÔÇô produced record-setting entries, and next month’s Midmar Mile in KwaZulu-Natal is on course for a record field in its 40th year.

“We’ve got a record entry now. We’re not worried about entries anymore, we’re worried we have too many entries,” laughed event organiser Wayne Riddin.

For those that have not yet swum a seeding time or entered, late entries will still be taken at registration, which takes place at the Cascades Lifestyle Centre in Pietermaritzburg on 6,7, 8 February. Thereafter entries will be taken at the dam, at an extra cost.

The list of entries received so far suggests that the battle for the men’s title could be one for the ages. Current entries stand at 13,755 entries.

“In the men’s race you’ve got Troyden [Prinsloo] and Chad [Ho], who you are normally expecting to race one another,ÔÇØ Riddin explained. “They were first and second in 2012. Then you’ve got S├®bastien Rouault, who is coming out from France. He used to train with Troyden when they were at Georgia University. Then you’ve got Myles Brown, who is probably considered to be the top South African challenger, and possibly also Mark Randall.”

Prinsloo represented South Africa at the 2012 Olympics in London, while Ho was part of Team SA at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Rouault is a former European men’s champion over 800m and 1 500m, so should be well suited to the distance, while Brown swam a very fast 7:59.12 to win the 800m title at the BHP Billiton Aquatic Super Series in Perth earlier this month, holding off Australian Olympic 400m finalist Ryan Napoleon for the victory.

Randall, meanwhile, has recorded a good number of open water victories around the country in the build-up to the Midmar Mile. He has returned from the University of Alabama where he set freestyle records over 500m, 1 000m, and 1 650 yards. He also represented South Africa in the 1 500m at the Commonwealth Games in 2010. Although he is still concentrating on the pool, Randall is a dark horse that bears watching.

The women’s race is headlined by seven-time Midmar Mile champion Keri-Anne Payne, who is also a two-time world champion over 10km. American Ashley Twichell should battle Payne the whole way for the title, as she did in 2012, while Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu set the Fina/Arena World Cup Series on fire in the distance events and should certainly challenge for the honours.

South Africa’s talent in the women’s field comes from a younger generation of swimmers. Assessing the entry so far, Riddin said: “I think the international swimmers, like Keri-Anne Payne, will be a little bit above the competition level of our swimmers, although the World Youth champion is Michelle Weber, so she could be one of the top South Africans. Then we can’t write off people like Rene Warnes, who is quite a tough competitor.

“Marlies Ross is a young up-and-coming swimmer, who has previously won the 13-and-under title at the Midmar Mile, and she’s become really tall and she’s jumping to a senior level quite quickly. Although she’s quite young, she could threaten even Keri-Anne Payne and the other top swimmers.”

The aQuell├® Midmar Mile takes place on 9-10 February at the Midmar Dam, just outside Howick in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.


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