The Midmar Mile, KwaZulu-Natal
Did you know?In 2009, 13 Olympians were among the more than 20 000 swimmers who took part in the Midmar Mile.
In February every year swimmers from across the globe head to Midmar Dam in KwaZulu-Natal to compete in the world's biggest open-water swim.
The Midmar Mile has a legacy dating back to 1974, when three friends – Mike Arbuthnot, Dick Park and Brian Glover – were unable to travel to East London to compete in the Buffalo Mile swim due to fuel restrictions. Frustrated with the situation, they decided to stage a similar race in Pietermaritzburg.
Initially only open to male competitors, this swimming race expanded to include female swimmers in 1975. The Midmar Dam was initially chosen for its central location and 153 swimmers took part in the inaugural Midmar Mile on 10 February 1974.
Trevor Strydom won that first race, with Owen Ryan and Martin Godfrey finishing second and third, respectively. Since then Martin Godfrey has competed in all but one event, and stalwarts Mike Arbuthnot and Anton Berry have taken part in every race.
The popularity of this open-water swim has grown rapidly over the years, with entries topping 1 000 by 1977 and rising to over 5 000 by the mid 1990s. In 2009 a whopping 20 000 swimmers took part in the event, including numerous international competitors.
The swim has also grown to include many different race categories – individual, company, schools, clubs, teams, disabled, families, iron man, biathlon – making provision for just about every level of swimmer, from the elite divisions down to the youngsters. Information on categories and the rules of the event can be found on the Midmar Mile website, along with online entry forms.
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