PIETERMARITZBURG, South Africa, February 9. WITH 15,000 athletes lining up on the shores of the Midmar Dam, the annual Midmar Mile has become the largest open water swimming race in the world, and the 2014 edition featured Ashley Twichell and Chad Ho repeating as overall champions.
As was the case last year, Twichell had a race on her hands with Britain’s Kerri-Anne Payne, but pulled off a last-minute in a time of 19 minutes, 45 seconds, two seconds ahead of Payne. While Twichell swam her mile fresh, Payne was in South Africa swimming every race available in the open water’s event, swimming six miles in the days before taking on Twichell and the signature mile.
In what is being called the closest finish in the 41-year history of the event, South Africans Chad Ho and Troy Prinsloo battled stroke for stroke to the finish of the mile swim. Swimming World open water correspondent Steven Muntaones writes in The Daily News Of Open Water Swimming that “Ho charged out of the water like a rhino protective of its offspring. His transition from swimming horizontally to running vertically was seamless and smooth. Three steps onshore and Ho overcame the earlier advantage of Prinsloo. A few steps from the finish, Ho stayed upright and bolted across the finish line like his life depended on it.”
The final results have Ho and Prinsloo timed at 18:18, but Ho got the official win. The 23-year-old Ho is a veteran of open water swimming, with various victories over the years in marathon swimming, including four straight before this year’s win. Prinsloo is transitioning to open water swimming after success in the pool, including four years at the University of Georgia. Prinsloo won the 1650 at the NCAA championships in 2009.