aQuellé Midmar Mile Celebrates 50 Years with Record-Breaking Swims and Inspirational Moments

aQuellé Midmar Mile Celebrates 50 Years with Record-Breaking Swims and Inspirational Moments

The aQuellé Midmar Mile took place from 9-12 February 2023 at Midmar Dam in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The Charity Challenge taking place on 9 and 10 February and the main events on the 11th and 12th of February. Thousands of swimmers headed to Midmar Dam that weekend for what was a massive celebration of 50 years of the aQuellé Midmar Mile.

76-year-old Mike Pengelly made history on February 11th as he completed his 50th aQuellé Midmar Mile, becoming the only person to have swum every edition of the world’s largest open-water swimming event.

Despite the different scene at the finish compared to the event’s first edition in 1974, Pengelly who swam with friends who also competed in the first event 50 years ago said:

“It was quite nice actually, I had a lot of help from my Pinetown Otters water polo friends. I generally pull to the left, so I had one friend on the left and one on the right, so I actually swam very straight today for a change. I normally zigzag all over the place so it was really nice, special. It’s unbelievable to all be together… this has become such an amazing event over the last 50 years.”

Among the celebrants was 90-year-old founder Mike “Buthie” Arbuthnot, who inspired Pengelly.

Pengelly said:

“To be honest, Buthie has actually been my motivator. He’s a few years older than I am and he’s had trials and tribulations and had cancer and what-have-you, yet he keeps on turning up. I have really been inspired by Buthie. He’s unbelievable.”

Trevor Strydom who was the winner of the first Midmar Mile in 1974 flew in for the event from Australia.

Mike Arbuthnot, founder of the Midmar Mile crosses the finish line and is welcomed by the first ever winner of the event Trevor Strydom. A momentous occasion on the 50th edition of the aQuellé Midmar Mile

Also making waves were the event’s disabled swimmers, including Alani Ferreira, who clocked a personal best time and won the visually impaired category, and adaptive surfer Similo Dlamini, who praised the event for inspiring “differently-abled” athletes to compete on equal footing.