6 February 2014
Defending women’s champion Ashley Twichell is going to be tough to beat at South Africa’s Midmar Mile this coming weekend, having just proved her form by winning the Swim the Swan 10km open water event at the Aquatic Super Series in Perth, Australia.
Twichell blew away the competition this past weekend to record a convincing victory in 2:03.51.27, comfortably clear of 5km world champion and fellow American Haley Anderson, with Australian 15-year-old Chelsea Gubecka in third. Her reward for winning was $17 000.
‘For me, it’s a pretty short distance
Interviewed by Abi Ray on East Coast Radio on Wednesday, Twichell said of the Midmar Mile: “For me, it’s a pretty short distance. I’m used to a 10km or maybe a 5km swim, so a mile is pretty short. I just try to get going from the beginning and try to stay strong throughout the whole thing.
“It is basically a sprint for me, unfortunately, because a 16 to 18 minute sprint is a really long time,” she added. “For me, it is easier to go out hard and try and maintain that, rather than trying to build my speed throughout. I’m just trying to get that speed right from the beginning.”
Two-time winner of the men’s title at the Midmar Mile and double Olympian Troyden Prinsloo finished 18 seconds behind the winner Jarrod Poort in a time of 1:54.34.82.
He will have his work cut out to beat four-time defending champion Chad Ho for the men’s title on Sunday, 9 February, while a dark horse that will bear watching is Myles Brown, whose performances in 2013 included defeating Tunisian legend Oussama Melloulli over 1 500 metres and breaking Ryk Neethling’s South African record for the distance by three seconds.
Brown is a previous winner of the boys’ 13-and-under title at the Midmar Mile and has plenty of experience of the event. There is no doubt that he has the pedigree to win, but open water swimming throws up many different challenges to swimming in the pool and in recent years Ho has been by far the best at managing them.
Swimming for charity
Twichell is unlikely to face a serious challenge from seven-time champion Keri-anne Payne for the women’s title. The two-time 10km world champion is swimming for charity this time around, and that means being part of the Eight Mile Club in which swimmers swim every one of the eight mile events that make up the Midmar Mile to raise funds.
Payne will be joined by American Lexie Kelly, who finished seventh in the Fina Open Water Swimming Grand Prix Series in 2013, and Sean Conway, the first and only man to swim the length of Great Britain, in raising money to save the rhino.
Leading South African
Michelle Weber, the top South African in 2013 with a third place finish behind Twichell and Payne, will be in action after undergoing minor heart surgery after the Fina Aquatics Championships in Barcelona last year. While admitting that she is not in peak form, the 2012 youth world champion over 5 kilometres said she should be in the running for a top five position.
Another massive field is expected for the world’s largest open water swimming field. Interestingly, about half of the entries come from Gauteng, with KwaZulu-Natal swimmers making up about 43 percent of the field.
With entries for the seeding events up by 15 percent on the previous year, it appears possible that the event could once again attract a record entry.
Registration for the 2014 aQuelle Midmar Mile takes place at the GC Jolliffe Pool in Pine Street, Pietermaritzburg. It began on on Wednesday and runs through to Friday. The hours of registration are 10:00 to 16:00 daily. Late entries will also be processed at the Midmar Dam on Saturday and Sunday.
Entry confirmation and information about registration is available on the website, along with links to the Midmar Mile on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
The aQuelle Midmar Mile takes place on 8 and 9 February. A significant fund-raiser for charities, it is an event for everyone and participants include swimmers with multiple disabilities through to Olympic champions and world record holders.
SAinfo reporter and aQuelle Midmar Mile