An Open Water Swim Like No Other

An Open Water Swim Like No Other

Courtesy of WOWSA, Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa. The aQuellé Midmar Mile is an open water swimming event like no other. In a country where there are only 10,000 registered competitive swimmers, nearly 17,000 swimmers take to the Midmar Dam in the state of Kwa Zulu Natal in the eastern part of South Africa.

Wave after wave after wave of people line up on the shore and swim in a straight line across the dam. The conga line of swimmers appears endless. Like fish in the water, sheep on land, cattle on the range, the swimmers follow one another creating a beautiful line for all to see.

Bands at the finish, royalty (future princess Charlene of Monaco) at the awards ceremony, Olympic medalists from both the pool and open water participating (Roland Schoeman, Keri-Anne Payne, Cassie Patten), hundreds of safety personnel, awards for everyone, food, signage galore, heats with physically disabled athletes, heats for elite athletes and heats for everyone else.

The event skews a little younger and more female than most races around the world. This demographic analysis (see below) bodes well for its continued success in the future. Far removed from the traditional female-male ratio of 1-to-2, the aQuellé Midmar Mile is not only the largest race in the world, it also appears to be a precursor of the sport’s future:

1 – 9 years: 1.04% male, 0.99% female or 2.03% of the total
20-29 years: 11.2% male, 9.5% female or 20.7% of the total
30-39 years: 10.0% male, 7.3% female or 17.4% of the total
40-49 years: 10.4% male, 7.0% female or 17.4% of the total
50-59 years: 4.9% male, 2.7% female or 7.7% of the total
60-69 years: 1.5% male, 0.6% female or 2.1% of the total
70+ years: 0.25% male, 0.04% female or 0.29% of the total
Total: 53.9% male + 46.0% female = 100%

Slow to fast, young to old, the swimmers keep coming throughout the day. Many of them an inspiration to swimmers of all ages. The five oldest women are Corinne Evans (74 years), Ann Hanson n(73), Marguerite Van Der Merwe (72), Gloria Williamson (72) and Judith Louw (71). The five oldest men include Roy Rees (87), Tiger Bulafkin (81), Martin Adie (80), Arnold Beukes (80) and Michael Arbuthnot (78).

Copyright © 2008 – 2011 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones