Time Freight Lake Heritage Water Festival Grows And Grows

Time Freight Lake Heritage Water Festival Grows And Grows

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Imagine a country where there are fewer than 10,000 registered competitive swimmers.

Imagine the same country that regularly has open water swims that attract even more participants than the number of registered competitive swimmers (e.g., aQuellé Midmar Mile attracts up to 19,000 participants).

In other words, a country where the open water swimmers vastly outnumber its pool swimmers.

That country is South Africa.

On the other end of the spectrum is the United States where there are over 1,000,000 registered high school swimmers, 300,000 registered USA Swimming members, 40,000 collegiate swimmers, and over 55,000 registered masters swimmers. Yet the average open water swim in America has fewer than 250 participants.

But every country has its own open water and pool swimming traditions, cultures and venues. South Africa is simply an outstanding example of a country excited about and structured to offer innumerable opportunities including all kinds of cold water, warm water, calm lake and rough ocean swims. From hippos to sharks, from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, from solo extreme challenges and ice swims to mass participation races and international elimination races, South Africa offers the full range of open water swimming opportunities.

One example is the Time Freight Lake Heritage Water Festival that serves as a seeding race for the 42nd aQuellé Midmar Mile. It is expected to attract 1,500 participants at the Heia Safari Ranch near Muldersdrift this weekend, 20 minutes from Johannesburg.

The Time Freight Lake Heritage Water Festival offers a 1.2 km race (Three-Quarter Mile), 3 km swim and a 10 km race that doubles as the Northern Tigers Open Water Swimming Championships. A record entry is expected after almost 1,500 pre-entries had been processed by Wednesday evening, putting the numbers ahead of those received last year. With Gauteng pupils back at school this week, the organisers are expecting an influx of race-day entries.

Event organiser Wayne Riddin was encouraged by the number of entries. “What I have been surprised about is that all the way through last year we weren’t breaking records on numbers in the water. I’m not sure if it is just because of the way the school terms are working out, but now with the Gauteng schools going back our numbers for this event are up on last year’s last seeding event.

It will be interesting to see what happens now with the Midmar Mile entries, which were running slightly behind 2014’s numbers, whether they pick up over the next week or so, because next week we will be extending the entry date until Friday for the Midmar Mile. That’s because KZN schools are starting up again only next week. This event at Heia Safari Ranch has always drawn over 1,000 swimmers, but now we are heading towards the 2,000-swimmer mark. I am sure we will get at least 500 on-the-day entries.

The event also doubles as the Northerns Tigers Swimming Open Water Championships, so there will be a lot of club swimmers coming in, so we will have a good field of swimmers as well. It is not just about participation, the club championships are taking place too

Due to the large number of entries, the main 1.200 km race will be seeded into batches similar to the aQuellé Midmar Mile where swimmers are set off at 2-minute intervals. “The nice thing is that very few people in Johannesburg realise that there is this ranch a couple of kilometres from them where they can go and walk-around or mountain bike at the Hero Adventure Park. You can do a lot there, if you want to have a conference there or spend a weekend out in the wild. You can walk in amongst the giraffe, so it is an outstanding venue, very family-oriented, which is very much part of what open water swimming is about.”

Photo of the Time Freight Lake Heritage Water Festival by Gameplan Media.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones