Keeping Everyone Safe At the aQuelle Midmar Mile

Keeping Everyone Safe At the aQuelle Midmar Mile

Race Director Wayne Ridden has the right protocols, procedures and policies when it comes to protecting the lives of tens of thousands of swimmers – one of whom includes the future Princess of Monaco, Charlene Whitstock – and another including the renowned Lewis Pugh at the aQuelle Midmar Mile in South Africa.

We have the South African Navy here with their boats and personnel – as well as 120 Tower 13 lifeguards who line the course. We also have the South African Navy Divers who are patrolling the course from underwater. The water was quite clear today. Additionally, ER 24, SAPS Search and Rescue, SAPS Dive Unit, 19th Field Engineers, KZN Wildlife staff, KZN Wildlife Honorary officers, Umgeni Protection Unit, Road Traffic Inspectorate and the RTI Training College staff are here to help make sure that everyone who enters the water can participate safely.”

There are also redundant timing systems – with transponders and barcodes and videos – to help us monitor who goes in the water and who comes out. We have waves of hundreds of athletes – separated by different colored swim caps – that start two minutes apart,” said Neville Smith, a FINA official who participated in the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim and other FINA races.

From what The Daily News of Open Water Swimming has personally seen, the safety reaches world-class levels. But there are always risks. “I am always worried until the last person finishes,” said Wayne who is directing his 20th annual event. A multi-time winner of the event himself, Wayne has been the race director for the past twenty years. “It will be a special year for me personally, being the 20th year as the Race Director, and having Charlene come over to swim the event and raise funds for our Special Olympics group in South Africa. Adding the Human Polar Bear Lewis Pugh to the list of dignatories and swimming all 8 miles to raise funds for Dr. Ian Player, the 2011 aQuelle Midmar Mile will have a really special atmosphere.”

It is always a challenge to bring so many swimmers back each year to the Midmar Mile and the diversity of the participants is what makes the Midmar Mile unique. We will obviously apply to break our Guinnes World Record and also aim at breaking the R1,000,000 fund raising mark.”

The weekend of activities starts tomorrow with an international 10K race featuring three Olympic 10K Marathon Swim medalists – Keri-anne Payne, Cassie Patten and David Davies – and a quick international contingent. Friday is the 25K South African Championships. Saturday’s events include the Pope-Ellis Ironman and Ironwoman biathlon and Disabled Races, the Company Relays, the Family Relays, the Multisport Double Mile Wetsuit Swim. On Sunday, the Midmar Mile is broken up into the elites, including the 2010 FINA 10KM Marathon Swimming World Cup champion Chad Ho, girls 13 years and under, women 31 years and older, boys 13 years and under, men 31 years and older, females from 14 – 30 years and males from 14 – 30 years. On Monday, the 3K and 5K championships are held.

Copyright © 2011 by World Open Water Swimming Association