KwaZulu-Natal swimmer Chad Ho will be chasing an elusive eighth title when he takes on a strong international field at the famous aQuellé Midmar Mile, taking place near Howick from 8-9 February.
The two-time Olympian last won the race in 2016, when he also set the record for the fastest time of 17 minutes flat. But he’s determined to add title number eight to his impressive haul of accolades which includes a 5km open water world title.
‘Winning is always the main priority and I am confident in my ability to win my eighth title,’ said the race’s most successful swimmer. ‘However, it will come down to race day and if it is my day.’
Ho’s first taste of victory came in the 13 years and under category, which he won back in 2004, and since 2008 he’s finished in the top 10 in the main race every year, including his run of seven titles from 2010 to 2016.
‘I don’t think there are any secrets to success in open water swimming. It is all about who performs on the day, who is in their best condition, who has picked the best line and the water conditions during the race. It’s anyone’s race, which is what I love about it.’
The 29-year-old added: ‘The international swimmers definitely add a competitive edge, they push you harder and it makes for great viewing for the spectators. In saying that, it is also not something I allow to cloud my focus. I can only control my swim and how I do on the day, so I choose to remain focused on that.’
While the mile distance isn’t contested at the Olympics, Ho explained that the Midmar Mile still forms an important part of his preparation as he looks to qualify for his third Games.
‘Midmar allows me to assess my current progress. It is not the distance I need to qualify for but it is an opportunity to race. Every opportunity to push yourself before the Olympics is a good one,” he explained.
The first step in achieving that qualification for Tokyo 2020 will be finishing in the top two at the national championships in Jeffrey’s Bay in March.
‘It is every professional athlete’s dream to compete at the highest level of competition. To say I have not only been to one, not two, but three Olympics is an indescribable feeling. This is what I spend every day working towards, and knowing my efforts paid off in the end will make it all worth it.’
But first he’ll be looking for another Midmar win and training has been ramped up to give him the best possible shot at that.
‘Training has been going well. We are currently in a period of doing high mileage and have been for about two weeks now. Some days are really tough and I am finished at the end of the day, but it is what is required to compete at the level I am aiming for.’
Ho has been lining up on the banks of the KZN dam since the age of six, so the event is of particular significance to him.
‘Midmar is an event whereby family, co-workers and friends can come together and take part in an event as a team or even as support for any individuals taking part,’ he explained. ‘For me personally it is a family-orientated weekend. I don’t get to have my family by my side at races very often and this is the one event that allows for that. I have been doing Midmar since the age of six and it has always been a significant event for myself and my family.’
Dubbed the world’s largest open water race, the aQuellé Midmar Mile sees over 12,000 swimmers covering the 1.6km distance over two days of racing. Entries close on 26 January. For more information, head to: https://www.midmarmile.co.za/how-to-enter/