The final seeding swim for the 2024 aQuellé Midmar Mile took place on Saturday and Sunday with a record number of swimmers converging on Prime View Adventure & Leisure in Midrand to compete.
Various distance races were spread across two days at the popular venue with 17-year-old Matthew Caldwell (Pictured top RHS) emerging victorious over 1.5km, 3km and 5km.
The Johannesburg swimmer finished the 1.5km in 17 minutes 33, three seconds ahead of veteran Reino von Wielligh (17.36 - Pictured top LHS), with Claudio Domiter (18.18) crossing the finish in third place.
“It was a good swim. I also swam 3km earlier [today] which was also a good swim, I felt really good,” said Caldwell afterwards. “I just came here mostly to race the boys. The 3km I won and the 1.5 I raced nicely with Reino there. He was tailing me most of the way, but I just kept going, kicking, and I ended up first.
“You never know if Reino is going to sprint or where he might start his chase but luckily I had enough gap on him,” added the talented teen who trains under former Olympian Doug Erasmus in Bedfordview.
Winning the women’s race was Corné van Schalkwyk whose victories in both the 3km and 1.5km events took on extra meaning after being out of the water for seven weeks with concussion after a serious car accident.
Her double victory was also a special way to celebrate her 18th birthday on Sunday.
Van Schalkwyk won the 1.5km race in the 14-30 age group, which was contested alongside the men, in 18 minutes 37, with Megan Shepherd in second in 19.49 and Rachael Humphries (19.55) in third. (Women's race winners pictured below)
“It was a really nice race, I really enjoyed it. I love racing and being in the water,” said Van Schalkwyk afterwards.
“It was also nice to race with the boys and they pulled me most of the way so I really enjoyed that and finishing strong,” added the Johannesburg-based swimmer.
Both Caldwell and Van Schalkwyk have now set their sights on podium performances at the aQuellé Midmar Mile which takes place in KwaZulu-Natal from 8-11 February.
Meanwhile, swimming a whopping 22.5km over the two days was Von Wielligh who used the event as training for the 16-mile Charity Challenge he’ll be competing in for the seventh time at Midmar next month to raise money for Happy Bundles.
Von Wielligh won the 10km event at Prime View and also swam the 5km, 3km and three 1.5km races.
“I feel reasonably good. Yesterday after the 10km, when I started the 5km directly after that, it was a bit sore,” admitted the 30-year-old. “The first two laps I felt good and then I started struggling – did a few backstroke strokes like you normally do when you’re tired – and I just finished the 5km.
“So after that I felt a bit more depleted but today’s races were shorter with more rest in between so that definitely helps and it’s more like the 16 miles so it’s a good training day for that.”
Those planning to swim in the 51st edition of the aQuellé Midmar Mile can still enter via the event website with pre-entries set to close at midnight on Wednesday, 24 January. Head to www.midmarmile.co.za for more information.