There is much anticipation ahead of next week’s 94th River Mile hosted by Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. Africa’s oldest open water swim boasts a rich history of swimmers who have won this historic event including SA Olympic swimming icon, Ryk Neethling, and SA’s first ladies Olympian Joan Harrison.
At the age of just 12 years, Harrison won the Ladies Quarter Mile in 1948 (Ladies Mile started in 1987) whilst Neethling won the Mile at the age of 16 in 1994. Next Sunday the 94th River Mile will be taking place at Sunday’s River and local 18 year old depending champions Ian Venter and Amica de Jager are in top form and keen to cross the line first again. Venter who swims for Aquabear Swimming Club in Port Elizabeth recently won the Nelson Mandela Bay Aquatics (NMBA) 5km and 3km Openwater Championship events and continues to dominate the aQuellé Ocean Racing Series 1km ocean swim and has demonstrated that will be hard to beat this year. National lifesaving champion and recent NMBA 10km and 3km Champion, De Jager, who swims under legendary swimmmer Haydn Holmes at Liquid Lines in Cape St Francis is currently in a class of her own in open water swimming in the Eastern Cape and it’ll take some hard doing to pip her next week. However, that being said, the River Mile is a race like no other and the top swimmers are aware of this. Whilst swum over a distance of 1,6km the River Mile takes place during the peak of the incoming tide resulting in a very fast swim which often favours some of the top pool swimmers.
Next Sunday’s River Mile offers a fantastic day out for the whole family with not only swimming events to entertain. The grounds of the Cannonville slipway, just 15 minutes outside PE on the N2 to Sundays River, are transformed in to festival area with loads of food vendors, crafters and displays to complement a Castle Free Beer Garden, Cerebos Chill Zone and the Wimpy Rotary Kids Zone, a magnificent inflatable play area for children under 12 under the watchful eye of Rotary and Rotaract members. On the sporting front, the day will kick off with the Wimpy 5km Family Fun Run offering a great opportunity for families to enjoy a flat 5km stroll through the village. The NMB Triathlon sanctioned, About IT MTB Triathlon follows where budding triathletes from as young as 15 years can take part in a short course (250m swim, 20km MTB and 5km Run) triathlon or the long course (500m swim, 42km MTB and 10km Run) version which has a minimum age limit of 18 years.
The popular Kids across the River Races start at 11am for children 12 years and under who are not taking part in the Mile event. All about having fun and getting into swimmer, this 40m swim across the river has added a new age group this year for children 6 years and under. Boys and Girls swim seperately and where necessary the child can be accommpanied by an adult and/or use floating devices. Kids prize giving with MC Gareth Burley of Kingfisher FM takes place at 12:15 ahead of the 12:30 start to the Blu_Smooth Wetsuit Mile and the Disabled Mile. 13:30 is the Ladies Mile followed an hour later by the Men’s Mile and the final prize giving at 15:30.
The 94th River Mile is supported by the Municipality of Nelson Mandela Bay and is fueled by Caltex Eastern Cape with around 100 children from disadvantaged communities being afforded the opportunity to take part in this prestigious sporting event. Children from the NMBA Learn to Swim program, NMB Triathlon Development Program, Khayalethu Youth Centre, the Artwork for Youth program in Joe Slovo township and children from the Colchester area have all been selected to join the Masakhane Future Stars program supported by Caltex and Greenacres Shopping Centre and will be taking part next Sunday.
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