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TThe Midmar Mile offers swimmers of all ages and abilities an opportunity to be part of the biggest open-water swim in the world, by completing a distance from one side of this KwaZulu-Natal dam to the other.
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 3 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.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Midmar Mile Information
Tel: +27 (0)86 164 3627
How to get here
From the N3 take the Midmar/Howick turn off. Turn left at the intersection and continue to the gates of the dam.
Best time to visit
The event takes place in Feburary, but the dam is open all year round and is particularly pleasant during summer.
Things to do
The Midlands Meander arts and crafts tourism route features more than 200 destinations set in the beautiful scenery of the KwaZulu-Natal midlands.
What will it cost?
Entry costs vary between categories and age groups. Check the website for details.
Length of stay
The event runs over 2 days.
Where to stay
With a convenient location close to the popular Midlands region, there are plenty of B&Bs, country lodges and cottages from which to choose – but book early!
What to pack
Your swimsuit, sunscreen, towels, hat and water.
What to eat
With 30 000 hungry swimmers and their supporters on site, numerous food stalls cater to all tastes.
The Midlands Meander is a browser's delight, with clothing, books, furniture, arts, crafts, woven rugs, foodstuffs, flowers, health products and loads more goodies to buy.