As thousands of swimmers put the finishing touch to their preparations for the aQuellé MIdmar Mile, one man on the other side of the world is wishing he was headed back to the shores of the KwaZulu-Natal dam next weekend.
That’s two-time defending men’s champion Connor Buck (Top image), who since his second straight victory last year has started studying at Princeton University in the USA and will not make it back to defend his title.
“I haven’t missed a Midmar Mile since I was 11 and it’s always been a such positive race for me so of course I feel a degree of FOMO [fear of missing out],” he admitted from his base New Jersey.
“There are so many things that go into making the Midmar Mile a special race. There’s the history and tradition of the event, the astounding number of competitors and the quality of the athletes it attracts. But for me what makes it most memorable is the camaraderie of the event. Being able to tackle the race with friends and family around you and sharing the experience of the race with so many other athletes sets the Midmar Mile apart for me,” added the SA National 5km and 10km open water champion.
Buck’s best time at the aQuellé Midmar Mile is the 17 minutes 39 seconds he achieved on his way to the 2023 title. This year will see the return of Australia’s 2019 Midmar winner Nick Sloman, who has already made his intentions clear – he’s out to break seven-time winner and former world champion Chad Ho’s 2016 record of 17 minutes flat.
Asked about the prospect of the record being broken, Buck reckoned: “Chad’s record will be tough to beat and there’s a reason it has stood for eight years now. But with a swimmer like Nick Sloman, I think a sub-17 minute Midmar is on the cards. Obviously, conditions on the day will play a role but if they are any good, the record will go.”
As for his advice on swimming the perfect race on the day, Buck added: “The start is where a lot can go wrong in the Midmar due to the sheer number of competitors which makes it quite chaotic. So, finding clean water as early as possible is crucial. After that, it’s just about staying in a good rhythm and swimming a straight line.”
Those eager to get in on the action at the aQuellé Midmar Mile, which takes place from 8-11 February, have until midnight tonight, 31 January, to get their pre-entries in. Entries to certain events will be possible at Midmar Dam on race day but at a higher fee. Pre-entry is highly recommended to avoid any delays at the dam. For more information, head to www.midmarmile.co.za
Photo credit: Action Photo SA