By Mark Etheridge
In-form open water swimmers Chad Ho and Michelle Weber are even more optimistic about their chances of qualifying for the Olympic Games in Rio later his year.
This after the two KwaZulu-Natal endurance athletes posted morale-boosting victories in the annual aQuellé Midmar Mile in KwaZulu-Natal at the weekend.
Ho, pictured in winning mode above, powered to a seventh successive Midmar Mile title while Weber was first South African victory of the women’s mile in 13 years.
A happy Ho told Road to Rio 2016: ‘The win shows that what we’re doing in training is paying off. For me Midmar is more of a personal achievement due to the reputation I have created around the event having won now seven consecutive times.
‘But as a stepping stone towards Olympics it’s used as a gauge to where I need to be in terms of speed for the last one kilometre or so in a 10km race. Obviously swimming 10km and 1.6km is very different and I’ll feel different by the time I need to kick in my speed for the last kilometre but Midmar is the pace I need to be at in my last stretch of a 10km race.
‘Next up is Abu Dhabi – I leave on the 23rd but am racing on the 26th, it’s a 10km FINA World Cup leg and this is the last open water race before Portugal so most of the open water swimmers from all over the world should be there. And that way I’ll be able to see where I lie against other swimmers currently,’ said the 2008 Beijing Olympian.
‘After that it’s SA’s in Grabouw then the Olympian qualification in Portugal.
‘Other than that I just plan on keeping my head down and training hard to achieve my goals, if other swim opportunities arise I will more than likely do them if possible because the more I can compete the better for me.’
Weber (pictured above) who like Ho, swam the open water event at FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia last year, is in a happy space.
‘Yes, of course that Midmar win has boosted my confidence to get to Rio and compete against some of the worlds best open water swimmers.
She told Road to Rio 2016: ‘I’ll also be doing SA Open Water Nationals in Cape Town where the top two males and females in the 10km will qualify to compete at the second qualifier for Rio in June. The top nine finishers there will qualify for Rio.
‘I came 19th at worlds in Kazan so the top 10 there have already qualified for Rio so they can’t come again. And from 11th place onwards if a swimmer in the top 10 has qualified then there can’t be another swimmer from the same country going into the second round.
So I’m actually seeded seventh for that race. I’m really very excited to race against international opposition again!’
Pictures courtesy of Jonathan Burton