It was a day for South African celebrations as the Durban duo of Robyn Kinghorn and Michael McGlynn wrapped up the women and men’s titles at the Midmar Mile.
International swimmers have dominated the elite events in recent years with the last double home victory coming in 2016 from Michelle Weber and Chad Ho. Those 2016 champions, who are both looking towards Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification, were aiming for a repeat of that feat in this year’s race, but were beaten in dominant fashion.
Both Kinghorn and McGlynn mastered the choppy conditions to perfection. They powered to the front of their respective races and could not be caught over the mile-long course.
Kinghorn chose a line across the dam that was well to the right of the chasing pack and it proved to work as she stayed in front to reach the finish in 21m 16sec.
Samantha Randle finished in second place 11 seconds later with Victoria Earle in third in 21:30. 2016 champion Weber was fourth.
‘I’m burning on the inside but I’m extremely happy with my race,’ said 20-year-old Kinghorn afterwards. ‘Everyone today swam their hearts out, I know that. The chop was extremely bad, so looking up I did get quite a few waves in my face. I didn’t really know where I was going, so swimming along and seeing the others in a bunch was quite concerning, but I just went for it and put my head down.’
In the men’s race McGlynn was also well out in front from the start as he relished the challenge of the rough conditions. Having finished second in last year’s race, the Durban swimmer was determined he’d finish in front this time, reaching the shore in 18:26.
Seven-time champion Ho was second in 19:02 and Henré Louw finished in third spot five seconds later.
Describing how he chose which line to take across the dam, McGlynn said: ‘I decided to just go with what felt right and that was the middle. It changes every year. I just put my head down and went for it.
‘I tried to look back a few times, but you know that saying ‘Don’t look back’ – so I just carried on going. I’m a sea swimmer as well, so these conditions kind of played into my hands today and it was my day.
‘Maybe if it was flat it would have been under 17 minutes. I was 17:28 last year so in these conditions 18 doesn’t matter – it was just about getting the job done,’ added McGlynn whose brother Chris finished sixth.
‘It’s my first win and I’m glad I could do it for South Africa as well. Midmar Mile is very prestigious. My first win, I’m 20 – I’m happy.’