Van Rouwendaal Captures First Midmar Mile Open Water Title


The 50th edition of the aQuellé Midmar Mile wrapped up this weekend from KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

First-time competitor Sharon van Rouwendaal made her mark on the annual competition, capturing the victory in the elite women’s category.

The 29-year-old Dutch ace hit the time pad first in the world’s largest open water swimming event, logging a time of 18:40. That gave her a 4-second advantage over Ashley Twichell. Twichell of the United States snagged silver in 18:44 while Stephanie Houtman of the host nation also landed on the podium in 19:29, good enough for bronze.

Speaking after the race, Van Rouwendaal said, “I was already challenged in the first 100 or 200m so I thought I need to get out of here and find the position in front and then just control whether people were trying to pass or not.

“Then I think around halfway I turned on my back and I saw there was only one person [close by] and I saw it was Ashley so I knew I had to be careful… when I saw the finish, I thought I’d build it up a little bit to get the win.

“It’s interesting because you have to start fast and then you’re hurting a little bit. Then you have to sit on a comfortable speed and you have to build up again so it’s very good to race something like this… I’m really happy I came here and experienced this.”

Van Rouwendaal is the reigning 10k world champion after having claimed gold at the 2022 World Championships in Budapest. That was a follow-up to her silver in the same event at the 2020 Olympic Games after having been crowned Olympic champion in 2016.

In the elite men’s race, it was Connor Buck who charged his way to a second consecutive title. He fired off to the front of the pack at the beginning of the race and never looked back, winning the event by nearly a minute.

The men’s runner-up was Henre Louw while Buck’s 17-year-old training partner Brendan Visser rounded out the top 3 in 18:50. Of note, USA’s Chad La Tourette finished 5th.

Buck said post-race, “My sighting wasn’t very good. I’m a little bit colour blind so trying to see the orange buoys against the grass doesn’t really work. I had to just try and look for the white tent at the finish the whole time.

“Coming into the race, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. You never know what’s happening with the currents and conditions on the day. I was just aiming to swim as fast as I possibly could and hope for the best, so it feels good.”

Main event results:

Women’s elite:

  1. Sharon van Rouwendaal 18:40
  2. Ashley Twichell 18:44
  3. Stephanie Houtman 19:29
  4. Tory Earle 19:42
  5. Samantha Randle 19:52
  6. Carli Antonopoulos 19:58
  7. Sash Corris 19:59
  8. Callan Lotter 19:59
  9. Amica de Jager 20:00
  10. Michelle Weber 20:03

Men’s elite:

  1. Connor Buck 17:39
  2. Henré Louw 18:34
  3. Brendan Visser 18:50
  4. Ross Hartigan 18:50
  5. Chad La Tourette 18:52
  6. Joshua Ashley 18:55
  7. Matthew Caldwell 18:55
  8. Jeandre Kleynhans18:56
  9. Damien Angel 19:09
  10. Reece Zowitsky 19:11

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1 year ago

I can barely swim that time in a pool, let alone open water. Wow!

1 year ago

It’s crazy to me that Sharon has a PB of 4:03 in the 400 free and has won gold and silver at the Olympics in the 10k (and plenty of international medals from 5-25k), but has only gone 8:24 and 16:03 in the 800 and the mile.

1 year ago

Twichell, 8 months after giving birth.😱

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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