Sunday morning, Valentine’s day 2016 … instead of me having a lay in and getting spoilt by the hubby, I got hubby and our young man into our car driving up to Howick with the Midmar Resort – dam – as the destination.
On our drive down to Emdloti (formerly Umdloti) we stopped off at South Africa’s Smallest Church for a bit of a leg stretch and a drink. You can read up a little on the history of this church here. If you’re not looking for it you can miss the turnoff, it’s a short drive on gravel off Van Reenen’s Pass in Kwazulu Natal. Anyway, while sitting at one of the table looking out towards the lush green hills a family of swimmers arrived. Yes, the lot were swimming the Midmar on both the Saturday and Sunday events. We struck conversation and they gave me some tips, one of which was to make sure that we arrived early because of the congestion that is often experienced caused by all the school buses.
Anyway back to Sunday 14th February 2016 🙂 we arrived and found a parking space pretty close to the finish of the race without much ado. Bonus was securing a Nivea Umbrella for us to settle for the day.
Unpacked the blanket, setup the chairs and I began to get myself ready for my swim. Sunblock on, tightened my swim shorts, I am not as confident as other middle-aged men who opted to swim in their Speedo briefs. Yes, I said it .. I’m middle-aged! It has taken me a while to acknowledge that 🙂 Making sure I had my goggles, swim-cap, earplugs and watch, I then enjoyed my Herbalife Protein Shake before I said my goodbyes and walked off to the pickup point so that I could catch the bus to the start of the swim.
I was super nervous!
I’m not sure why. I wasn’t even that nervous when I competed in my first 5i50 Triathlon Series last year November. Driving to the start one could not help but notice how low the water levels were. As it was my first Midmar Mile, I’d not seen what the previous year’s levels were like for a true comparison, but it was clear as day that the water levels for the Midmar dam were low.
Off the bus and the first stop before you entered the “Swimmers Only” area was to have your number “tattooed” on both your arms and chest for the men. All entrants would have received an SMS leading up to the event with their race number. If you hadn’t collected your number yet, then you could still get it at this point. The rest of us who already had our gear hung around wherever we could find shade. At this point it would have been great if there had been some form of notice board or person informing swimmers where to proceed to. Listening to everyone around me, it was clear that we were all swimming our first Midmar and very unsure of where to go from this point. One by one we mustered enough courage to walk on down a path that seemed to lead to the start. At this point it became clear that depending on the colour of your swim cap, you had tents already set up to give you some shade before the start of your group. We waited here for a good 30 minutes before the Orange caps – first group to go off – started their swim. Three minutes later we moved into the water and we were off.
For some odd reason the minute I hit the water I knew something wasn’t right. I struggled to get my rhythm initially or the first 800m. Everytime I looked up, damn the finish tent just looked further and further away. It’s not like I hadn’t trained for this moment. If anything I’d looked forward to this day for years now. I didn’t encounter too many swimmers who could not swim straight nor those that felt the need to kick or box me… fortunately! Before long though it was all over. I don’t even recall my mind wandering in thought, that’s how quickly it was all over. Done! Just like that I’d finished my mile! I’d finished my first Midmar Mile.
Overall the event was very well organised, fantastic job Midmar team! Water seemed clean and really great to swim in considering the heat. My only gripe with the event is that from your Facebook interaction with the novices, to the information available on the day it was all directed at swimmers that have completed one or more Midmar Mile over the years. I recall a particular question that kept coming up on Facebook about what the route profile was, the response always was “it is mostly the same as last year” . Hello, we weren’t all there last year … and the other would have been great if there was more directional signage or someone guiding swimmers at the start side, as again not everyone had swam the Midmar before.
Will I do it again, of course yes! Next time round we will plan our stay around the event better and my boys will also come through to the start with me.
What’s next? Swim season seems to be over right? Not quite, next weekend I’m competing in the last Mile swim in Gauteng.
The Xtreme Swim Series is hosting a swim event at the Germiston Lake on the 27th February. It was at this very same event in 2015 that I swam my first ever mile in 39 minutes .. don’t be judging me alright! 🙂 Again nervous but determined to swim the mile.
If you’re in the area and keen to enjoy one more open water swim, why not head out to the Germiston Lake for a mile or two .. unless 12 miles is your thing of course 🙂 Head on over to the entry site and enter!