Open water swimming in the Kouga will receive another boost this weekend when the inaugural Gamtoos River Mile takes place at the Ferry Hotel on Sunday.

Although there has been swims and triathlons held in the past in the Gamtoos River, no swim has taken place in recent times.

Mike Zoetmulder from Zports who is the organiser of the 2010 Steers Marina Mile has in association with the Gamtoos Ferry Hotel, put together a cross terrain festival that will see a 15km run, a 5 km trail walk through indigenous bush with the main event being the Gamtoos River Mile.

Pieter Ellis will be swimming the Gamtoos River Mile on Sunday. Photo: Kouga Swim Club

There will also be a 75m swim for the 12 and under swimmers and a 5km fun run for those who are still getting into their summer training programme.

“Open water swimming is one of the fastest growing sports internationally and we are positioning Nelson Mandela Bay and the Jeffreys Bay area as being the prime open water swim venues in South Africa”, explained Zoetmulder. “Together with the Kouga Swim Club, we are holding a total of 7 world class open water swim events in the region this season, with the biggest being the Steers Marina Mile”, he added.

Several swimmers from the local swim club will be taking part in the Gamtoos River Mile. Pieter Ellis, fresh off his victory in the 500m swim at Marina Martinique in the first open event of the EPA Swim Challenge Series, will be moving up a notch and will be attempting the Mile.

“We swum a Mile in training at the Marina last week so I know I can make it”, said Pieter (9 years old). We are working on a new open water stroke in training so I will be trying it out during the Mile and see how it goes. I love open water swimming because it is much more challenging than swimming in a pool and we even see big fish sometimes”.

The day’s activities kick off with the 15 Km run at 11 am, followed by the 5 km run at 11.30 am. Straight after the start of the 5 Km run, the trail walk will take place. At 13h30 the 75 m dash will be held followed by the Gamtoos Mile at 14h00.

The Mile is a traditional open water swim distance and with the redhouse River Mile, the Steers Marina Mile and now the Gamtoos, open water swimmers in the province are spoilt for choice when is comes to swims over this distance.

“The Mile (1650m) is a great stepping stone for the more challenging 3 Km swim”, explains local swim coach Brenton Williams. “Before the introduction of the 10 Km swim as an Olympic sport, the Mile was considered a long distance swim in the South African context. Now we have more and more swimmers pushing the limits that we are introducing a 25 Km swim as part of the Marina Mile this year”, added Williams.

Enter now for the Marina Mile

Entries are open for the Steers Marina Mile and only the first 100 entrants will receive the event T-shirts which are collector items. Enter now at Marina Mile

Open water training commenced last week at Marina Martinique. The water is still just under 20 degrees but the core group of swimmers who did a bit of winter training agree that the water is warm enough to swim. More information can be obtained by visiting Kouga Swim Club

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