The Midmar Mile held at the Midmar Dam north of Pietermaritzburg
Natal. The Midmar Mile is the world's largest open water
swimming event. The Midmar Mile draws thousands of competitors each
year, both serious international athletes and Olympic medallists to
The Midmar Mile swim gains its name from it's location (the
Midmar Dam) and it's distance (+/- one mile). A unique feature of
the race is that while the distance covered is always a mile,
depending on rainfall and the water levels in the dam, the distance
swum varies from year to year. In years with poor rainfall,
competitors are subject to the infamous Midmar sprint start: a
bedlam of bodies sprinting across the muddy lake-shore and through
the shallows until the water is deep enough to swim.
In order to handle the vast number of competitors, the swimmers
swim out in several groups at two-minute intervals in 8 batches
over two days; the group division is based on a qualifying time in
a previous event, with the fastest group leaving first.