Midmar Mile stars up for awards

31 October 2013

Lorna Cochran, the oldest ever finisher of the world’s largest open water swimming event, South Africa’s Midmar Mile, and Wayne Riddin, the long-time organiser of the event, have been nominated for the World Open Water Swimming Association’s Woman and Man of the Year Awards.

Cochran, who swam the Midmar Mile in February at the age of 89, turned 90 in July. She remains fit and active and was thrilled to hear the news of her nomination, which came as a huge surprise.

In typically humble fashion, she quickly turned the focus to Riddin, saying: “Tell him ‘well done’, he deserves it.”

‘A pleasure’

Considering her time taking part in the event, she added: “It is so well organised and it has really been a pleasure for me to be there year after year for 15 years.”

It has been a busy year for Cochran and, she admitted, she has not yet done any training for the 2014 Midmar Mile. However, she indicated that another swim was not out of the question. “I do intend to try, at least,” she said. “I won’t make any predictions at this stage. If I do swim, I will be very pleased, but it is just a matter of wait and see.”

Her nomination, shown below, sums up the Grand Old Lady of the Midmar Mile:

Lorna Cochran, Near-nonagenarian Navigates Nirvana (South Africa)

At the age of 89, Lorna Cochran shows the joys and benefits of open water swimming as clearly anyone on the planet. She emerges from the open water with a smile as wide and bright as can be. She is gracious to all, she is eloquent with the media.

She is a late bloomer to the sport who is cheered on by her seven children, 24 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren, and numerous respectful fans.

After she started competing in South Africa’s aQuelle Midmar Mile at 74, she kept on competing year after year – proving that some things do get better with age.

For her passion for healthful living, for her continued participation in the world’s largest competitive race, for the example of healthful, meaningful living she represents, Lorna Cochran is a worthy nominee for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

Labour of love

For Wayne Riddin, who was head coach of the South African swimming team in Sydney, the world’s largest open water swimming event remains an ongoing labour of love as he continually tweaks it, aiming to improve it each and every year, even though it has been acknowledged to be the world’s leading open water even by some distance.

“Nothing I have seen comes anywhere near the Midmar Mile,” Sam Greetham, a member of swimming world’s governing body Fina’s open water swimming technical committee, said when he visited South Africa in 2005.

In 2011, Steve Munatones, who was also on the Fina open water swimming technical committee, was blown away by his first visit to the event. “It sets the worldwide bar in every category,” he proclaimed.

“She really deserves it for what she has done,” Riddin said of Cochran’s nomination.

‘Amazed’

“I am always amazed [to be nominated] when you look at the people that I have been nominated with,” he laughed when assessing his own nomination.

“Being in the top 15 nominations is not just about winning, but it’s about being recognised for what I have put in and just to be among those 15 is good enough. I was a bit overwhelmed when I saw the people, who are actually racing and winning in the Olympics. I don’t do it for that, but it is an honour.”

Riddin, by the way, won the second and third editions of the Midmar Mile, which this year celebrated its 40th anniversary. His nomination reads:

Wayne Riddin, Midmar Mile Miracle (South Africa)

He constantly re-invests in the sport of swimming; he envisions a bright future in the sport and then creates an environment to make it a reality.

He attracts 18 000 swimmers in a variety of amateur, charity, disabled and elite competitions in South Africa where there are only 6,000 competitive pool swimmers.

The race director for the Midmar Mile does so much for the sport in his native South Africa. From timing systems to celebrities, from seeding events to hot spots, from aerial coverage to car give-aways, Riddin has set the highest standards in the sport.

For his visionary innovation and aquapreneurial drive, for his constant commitment to give back to the sport of swimming, for his leadership in creating the most extravagant, wholesome open water swimming event, Wayne Riddin is a worthy nominee for the 2013 Wowsa Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

Vote

To vote for Cochran and Riddin, visit the Wowsa website

A short and free registration is required to ensure to ensure that people vote only once in each category.

The aQuelle Midmar Mile takes place on 8 and 9 February 2014. 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.