By Steven Munatones of Open Water Source
PIETERMARITZBURG, South Africa. February 10. KATINKA Hosszu, a top FINA World Cup swimmer in the pool, was the dark horse in the 40th aQuelle Midmar Mile.
Outfitted in a fashionable pink suit, the Hungarian Olympian took out the world's largest mile race, like a fast 200m. But American Ashley Twichell had the speed and stamina to stick with her. By the first 400m hot spot, worth R800, Twichell had pulled up even as the two banged together trying to establish their own lines. At 4 minutes 47 seconds, the two hit the hot spot in a dead heat.
But Twichell started to pull away at the 450m mark with a fast 92 stroke per minute pace. Hosszu was soon passed by 7-time defending Midmar Mile champion Keri-Anne Payne and Michelle Weber, a local South African emerging start.
By the 800m hot spot, worth R1200 to the first swimmer across the line, Twichell had established a 25-meter lead and was in clear position to win. She crossed the line at 10 minutes 6 seconds and continued on in first to the 1200m hot spot with an even faster 94 spm pace. Her speed was impressive, but Payne was not about to give up. Her competitive spirit showed as she closed the gap a bit. But it was not enough on this day. Twichell said of her British rival, “I know Keri-Anne took a break after the Olympics.”
At the 1600m hot spot, it was clear who was going to win the 40th annual aQuellé Midmar Mile as Twichell continued to take an inside line.
Twichell said of her victory, “It was a lot of fun. It was honored to be asked back. I wanted to get a lead in the beginning. I would love to be back. This is by far the biggest race that I have been in. Katinka took off fast and I was a bit worried. She is so fast. Last year, [the Midmar Mile] was really close and I have lost a few close races recently, so I was motivated to win. I thought it would be a close race so I wanted to get in the lead quickly.”
“I asked her to be aggressive,” said Mission Viejo Nadadores coach Bill Rose who was also in attendance. “And she showed it. I was very proud of her.”
Weber, the 16-year-old world junior open water swimming champion from Umhlanga, South Africa, was excited to be with the superstars of the sport. “I was so happy with that swim. The race was amazing to be in the water with Keri-Anne and Ashley.”
Top 5 results:
1. Ashley Twichell (USA) 19:04
2. Keri-Anne Payne (GBR) 19:24
3. Michelle Weber (RSA) 19:29
4. Katinka Hosszu (HUN) 19:48
5. Rene Warnes (RSA) 20:06