One of South Africa’s unsung hero’s will be swimming at Marina Martinique in Jeffreys Bay this weekend.
Chad Ho is the current world 5 km champion, has been crowned as the World 10 km World Champion and has represented South Africa at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games as well as at Rio in 2016.
Ho will be swimming in the 10 km on Saturday morning at Marina Martinique in the South African Open Water Swim Championships and will race again on Sunday morning in the 5 km swim.
Both races start at 9 am and the Marina is a great venue for spectators to watch world class swimmers like Ho and fellow Olympian Michelle Weber race to qualify to represent South Africa at the World Swim Champs that will take place in Budapest later this year.
JBay News caught up Chad to find out more about what it takes to become a world champion.
You first competed in the Olympics in 2008. What was that experience like?
It was an amazing experience for me, I had just turned 18 still in matric and very inexperienced. I had set myself a personal goal of being in the top 10 as I was still the new kid on the block which I managed to achieve finishing 9th. The whole Olympic experience is breathe taking, it is so hard to describe what it is like walking into the opening ceremony to the nerves before my race. Both my Olympic’s will be an experience I will cherish and never forget for the rest of my life.
You were the world 10 km champion in 2010 – what did it take to win?
This achievement was a for the World Cup Series which I participated in. With the races being in different countries & continents I was fortunate enough to travel extensively and gain vital experience as well as race world class athletes.
You are the current 5 km World Champ – where and when did you race?
In 2015 I become the first South African to win a World Championship medal in open water. The event was held in Kazan Russia in June. The race itself was great, I did not go into the race trying to be the world champion, I just wanted to use it as a warm up for the 10km a few days later but using my experience and feeling great on the day I managed to position myself perfectly coming into the home stretch.
When I knew I was in for a chance to win a medal I stayed focused and waited for the right time to make my move.
This medal is not only for me but for South Africa, it puts our country on the map and hopefully inspires a younger generation to get into open water and see that you can become a World Champion.
Rio 2016 – what was the venue like – the vibe?
Rio Olympics was different from my experience in Beijing which made it that much more spectacular. The venue was good, nothing like what was reported in the media; I had swum there a few times in the past leading up to the Olympics and I never feared the water quality once.
The local people in Rio are friendly and festive which was shown by all the support we received on race day.
Why did you start swimming open water and what do you love about it?
I started at a very young age, I did my first midair mile at 6 or 7. I love how each race is so different, you never experience the same conditions and with open water swimming it is anyone’s game which makes the challenge more thrilling.
What are your favourite open water swim venues?
I don’t really have any favorite race venues, each race is so different and each venue provides different obstacles and different spectacular views.
How do you rate Marina Martinique as a swim venue?
The Marina Martinique is a good place to race, with all the twists and turns you have to stay focused at all times.
The weather can play a part just adding to the toughness of the swim. I think it has potential to host bigger events in the future.
Anything you would like to say about the last time you swam here in 2011?
My last race at the Marina Martinique was a real nail biter, I was pushed all the way by Troyden Prinsloo where we come into the finish together and touching the finish bouy together.
I need to draw on my experience to ensure that these types of finishes don’t happen.
What are your goals after all you have accomplished?
There is still plenty I want to achieve, I want to win more World Championship medals and go on and win the greatest medal of the them all, the Olympic medal.
How much training do you do per week?
My training consists of many things, but I do all my swimming training in the pool. I do 10 sometimes 11 sessions a week with each session lasting between 2hrs and 2hrs 30 min.
I also do strength training not in a gym but with weight weight movements for 30 minutes 3/4 times and week and then spinning at altitude twice a week for 1 hr.
How often do you race?
I try race as often as possible, but there are factors that prevent me from doing that such as funding so whenever I can race I will race.
What is the difference between racing 5 km and 10 km
There are differences between the two distances but for the most part they are the same. For me the biggest difference is the feeding you require to last the distance where as in the 5km you don’t need to feed.
The pace of a 10km may be a bit slower than the 5km but the end of both races are exactly the same – fast and furious.