Ho wins third consecutive Midmar
Chad Ho became the first man to win three Midmar Mile titles in a row on Sunday, while British swimmer Keri-Anne Payne clinched a record seventh successive crown in the women's race in Howick, KwaZulu-Natal.
The 21-year-old Ho finished the world's largest open water race in a time of 18 minutes, 48 seconds, beating fellow countryman Troyden Prinsloo (19:09) and Italian Federico Colbertaldo (19:24).
"Obviously it was a goal of mine this year to win the race three times in a row," Ho said.
"I'm just glad I got there in the end and I'm really grateful for the way it turned out."
The Durban-based swimmer, who came ninth in the 10 kilometres open water race at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, led from start to finish at Midmar Dam, where the choppy water conditions were not ideal.
It was the slowest time of Ho's two previous races after he won the race in 18:27 in 2011 and 18:39 in 2010.
"It was a little bit choppy out there, but I just got into my rhythm from the start, put my head down and swam hard until the finish line," he said.
On the women's side, Johannesburg-born Payne, now based in England, came through in a time of 20:44 to win a sprint finish with American Ashley Twichell and compatriot Danielle Hall-Jackson.
The winning margin was just two seconds ahead of Twichell (20:46) and Hall-Jackson (21:03), while the first South African to finish was Rene Warnes in a time of 22:23 in fifth place.
Payne said she was "overwhelmed" by winning the title for a seventh time as she bettered the record of six that she shared with Natasha Figge (1990-1996).
"It feels amazing to win the race again," she said.
"I remember when I was a kid and my dad and brother used to say ‘Oh wow, Natasha Figge just did that. I don't think we're ever going to see another woman as good as her again.'
"I used to say ‘I'm going to do that' and now I've done it, so hopefully when they hear about it they'll be happy for me."
The 24-year-old silver medallist in the 10k race at the Olympic Games in Beijing said that having Twichell so close to her helped push her levels towards the end.
"The American girl alongside me really helped with the pace," Figge said.
"She was swimming really well and at the end I picked up and she followed.
"I guess I just managed to hold on after pushing hard for the final 100 metres."