Ho, Twichell retain Midmar titles
South African open-water swimming sensation Chad Ho once again rewrote the aQuellé Midmar Mile record books after he swam to his fifth successive victory in the event in KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday.
It was the closest finish ever in the race, as Ho just pipped regular rival Troyden Prinsloo at the line.
Last year, Ho became the first person in the event’s history to win four back-to-back titles, and after yet another enthralling clash with Prinsloo this year, stretched his remarkable record by one, causing some to call him the Fordyce of the Midmar Mile.
“I think I gave some people a bit of a heart attack towards the end there but I’m really happy to have taken the win,” said an elated Ho.
“I think my first win also went down to a photo finish too, and hats off to Troy for pushing me the whole way.
Ho spoke passionately of his new record afterwards and, while hoping to continue his unique record, is looking forward to enjoying his feat for the time being.
“Winning five in a row is a huge deal to me!” said Ho. “Winning just a title means a lot to me so winning five makes me very happy!
“I’ll just look to take it one year at a time but right now it’s all about celebrating the fifth win,” he added.
An appreciably disappointed Prinsloo complimented Ho on his achievement and looked to next year’s event as an opportunity to return and seek his still elusive third Midmar Mile title.
“Congrats to Chad. It was a great swim,” said Prinsloo. “I knew it would be tough coming into the race and obviously it’s a bit disappointing but my swim today was much better than the last two years so I guess I’m still happy.
“I felt a bit sluggish initially but one I found some clear water then I started to get into things a bit better but I guess now I’m just looking forward the SA Nationals in the next few days and we’ll have to see how things go next year.”
Myles Brown, who finished sixth last year, enjoyed a ding-dong battle with top-five regular Danie Marais, with Brown ultimately clinching the final spot on the men’s 14-30 years-old podium.
“It's so tough trying to swim in a pack like that. When the race starts its chaos. You get knocked around and cut-off, but that is what open-water swimming is about and Chad and Troy have mastered that. I'm still learning, but it's an improvement on last year, so I’m really happy!” said Brown afterwards.
"[As a previous winner of the boys' title] I've always wanted to win the big race, but saying and doing are two different things. Hopefully [next year] I can end Chad's streak of five titles,” he chuckled light-heartedly.
Marais finished fourth while Chris McGlynn put in a stand-out effort to round out the top five and claim his best ever Midmar Mile result.
TIGHT FINISH FOR WOMEN
The women’s race also saw a tight finish, with American Ashley Twichell narrowly edging out Brit Keri-anne Payne by just two seconds.
Shortly after watching Payne make a brisk start and claim the race’s first hotspot at the 400-metre mark, defending champion Twichell went to the front and refused to relinquish that position for the remainder of the race, despite Payne’s constant presence.
“Keri-anne did get out [the blocks] fast and she is unbelievable but her start didn’t really change things too much for me,” explained a visibly satisfied Twichell afterwards.
“I got a little caught up with all the people in the beginning, but I've done enough races [to know] to stay calm.
“I knew she was going to go out fast but, although she is an amazing swimmer, I wasn’t too worried as I knew it was her seventh swim this weekend.
“It's only a mile, compared to my usual ten kilometres, but I knew I had time to get to where I wanted to be."
Twichell confirmed her intention to defend her title in 2015.
"I love this race. With the amount of travelling I do I have to pick and choose which races I focus on. This one is pretty far away from home but it's one of my favourites,” said Twichell.
“The venue is amazing, the organisation is great, [race director] Wayne Riddin is fantastic and the people are so hospitable, so it's one of my favourites and I would love to come back!"
Payne opted to approach the 2014 race a little more socially before working hard in 2015 in preparation for the Rio Olympics, and chose to take on the 8 Mile Club charity challenge instead of focusing all her energies on the women’s title race.
“I didn't feel as if I pushed it that hard in the previous event. I did lengthen my stroke in the second event today, thinking I could get a pretty good warm-up for the women's race in and then I think the competitive side of me might possibly have come out a little bit towards the end of today’s second swim,” chuckled Payne.
“I felt pretty good after today’s second race so I set myself the goal of making sure I came and gave the women’s race a good go. I had done six miles already this weekend, this was No 7 so I knew it was probably going to be tough.
“I just wanted to stick to Ashley (Twichell) as much as I could and see how close I could get to her because I know she's got a lot of speed at the moment. I managed to do that and am really pleased."
South Africa’s Michelle Weber was the first local lady across the line.
“When I said before the event I might finish in the top five, I didn't know whether I actually even had it in me so I am just so stoked that I came third behind Ashley and Keri-anne who such great competitors,” said Weber.
Kyna Pereira claimed fourth place and Carmen le Roux fifth to round out the women’s top five for 2014.
1. Chad Ho 18 minutes, 18 seconds
2. Troyden Prinsloo 18:18
3. Myles Brown 18:43
4. Danie Marais 18:44
5. Christopher Mcglynn 18:45
6. Mark Meyer 18:47
7. Ayrton Sweeney 19:36
8. Josh Dannhauser 19:55
9. Brendan Levy 19:56
10. Reuben Schoeman 20:03
1. Ashley Twichell 19 minutes, 45 seconds
2. Keri-Anne Payne 19:47
3. Michelle Weber 20:29
4. Kyna Pereira 20:30
5. Carmen le Roux 21:08
6. Erin Gallagher 22:13
7. Tasmin Tennant 22:22
8. Megan van Wyk 22:22
9. Lexie Kelly 22:25
10. Jessica Whelan 22:25
GIRLS 13 YEARS AND UNDER
1.Tracy-Lea Meyer 22.33
2.Alice Edward 22.59
3.Asleigh Green 23.23
4.Tayla Sinclair 24.34
5.erika Esterhuizen 25.01
WOMEN 31 YEARS AND OLDER
1.Mandy Loots 24.13
2.Barbara Bowley 25.08
3.Sarah Ferguson 25.09
4.Ellen Hight 25.39
5.Hill Hanass-Hancock 25.40
BOYS 13 YEARS AND UNDER
1.Luke Erwee 21.46
2.Reece Kincaid 21.51
3.Dylan Cox 22.17
4.Cole Poovan 22.22
5.Dante Norjte 22.44
MEN 31 YEARS AND OLDER
1.Wade Krieger 21.50
2.Michael Phillips 22.22
3.Gary Albertyn 22.41
4.Brett Clark 23.00
5.Glen Gore 23.10