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Ho and Weber race to third place in Rio practice event
- Updated: December 17, 2015
By Mark Etheridge
Champion South African open water swimmers Chad Ho and Michelle Weber got some much-needed race practice in Rio de Janeiro at the weekend.
The KwaZulu-Natal duo took part in the King and Queen of the Sea swim in the Brazilian city and, apart from the competition, the most valuable aspect of their trip west was that the competition took place at the same venue for the open water swim at next year’s Olympic Games.
The two swimmers (pictured with their trophies) placed third in the trial lap of the event (behind United States and Italy). The next day they matched their finishing position in the race proper, only difference being that this time it was Germany rather than Italy who were runners-up.
Said Ho who swam to five-kilometre open water gold at this year’s Fina World Championships in Russia: ‘The competition was enjoyable as always, it’s a very unique race with only six teams of two (male and female) each representing a country. It went well, we made it onto the podium which was what we wanted for that race. It’s not a very long race though, we only do three laps each of about 500m.
‘I’m in Plettenberg Bay now doing the ocean swim (5.5km) for the Sabrina Love Foundation. It’s not a competitive swim but something I do for charity every year. My next swim after that is in Cape Town, the Sanlam Cape Mile and the following weekend will be Midmar Mile.
‘Then my next international race will only be in Portugal in June as far as I know but something may pop up before then.’
Much has been made of the problems with water pollution but Ho was happy to report back that things were all clear from his side. ‘There were no issues with the water where I swam. The water they were complaining about was for the competition rowing area.’
As for Weber she also revelled in the Rio experience. She told Road to Rio 2016: ‘It’s always great to do open water races because it’s practice.. we train in the pool most of the time so as soon as I get the opportunity to compete in the seas, dams and lakes then I take it. Racing is training so it will fit in any time.
‘Rio was a great experience for me to swim in the same waters that the Olympic event will be held next year. I’m very happy with how we performed against the other top countries’ best open water swimmers. I feel blessed that I was given this opportunity. As for Rio itself, it’s such a beautiful city and although there were reports that the water is dirty I swam in it and it is spotless!’
Like Ho though there’s little time for reflection. ‘At the moment I’m doing KZN champs… I landed back in SA on Tuesday and had to race the 800m freestyle the day after. I still managed to win so I’m very pleased with it and I’m doing the 400m free this afternoon which I also hope to grab gold in.’
Looking ahead to next year she went on. ‘February is a big month for as I have Sanlam Mile, Midmar Mile and hopefully the Bridge House Mile. Then in March it’s South African Open Water national (qualification for Portugal, then Portugal is the qualifier for the Olympic Games).
‘And lastly in April are the South Africa Senior Nationals for pool swimming.’
The win also went some way to boosting the duo’s bank balance with third place netting them 10,000 Brazilian real, which converts to just under R40,000 and will no doubt come in handy over the festive season.