Today, he is going to participate in his 60th edition.
Michael Zoetmulder will present Richards with a special certificate commemorating his unprecedented world record in the sport of open water swimming on behalf of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and the World Open Water Swimming Association.
“Mally is one of those individuals in the open water swimming community whose accomplishments not only are beyond belief, but they also give people hope that they too can live a healthful life,” remarked Steven Munatones, Vice President of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame. “He has set the bar in the open water swimming world in his 60th River Mile today. This achievement requires an unprecedented and nearly believable level of commitment, combined with a pure joy of swimming and ongoing attention to his physical wellness.”
And he has passed his passion for the sport to his son who has won the race and his grandsons who participate in the oldest open water swimming event in Africa. “Mally has established a remarkable legacy and is an inspiration to people around the world,” continued Munatones.
Since 1947, he has some unique perspectives over the annual race.
His fastest times over the course were recorded in his early twenties during the 1950′s when he was most fit from water polo. But his most enjoyable River Mile was in 2006. “It was a real festive occasion with lots of friends doing the event,” he explains, “When I was standing on the start line, it was just felt like you knew everyone.”
While Richards stayed the same, he observed some changes over time. “The competitiveness of the event has changed the most. In the early years, the field was very limited. It is very competitive now. It’s a lot bigger and certainly more social.”
At the age of 80 years, there is apparently no stopping the Legend of the River Mile. “I do my swimming during the week, probably doing around about 800m to a 1 km. But, I’m also active with bowls and enjoy my beach walks but am starting to suffer from back problems. I’ll keep doing it until I’m unable to finish it, then I think it’ll be time to call it quits.”
Today, Mally will be swimming with his son Kevin, a former 6-time winner of the event, and his two grandchildren Sean (14) and Marc (10) who will be taking part in their first River Mile. Kevin will participate in his 26th swim having first swum when he was 8 years old, despite having missed the better part of the last decade whilst living in the UK.
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