After serving as the event organiser for 25 years, Wayne Riddin will step down after the 2016 edition of the Midmar Mile, the world’s largest open water swimming event.
During his time in charge, over 300 000 swimmers made it safely across the Midmar Dam.
When Riddin took charge of the Midmar Mile, it had only just achieved a field of 3 000 swimmers.
More recently, the entry figures had topped the 17 000 mark. With the expansion and popularity of the event, Riddin led the way as the Midmar Mile became the worldwide standard-setter for open water swimming events.
Steve Munatones, an International Swimming Federation (Fina) technical committee member for open water swimming, and coach of the USA’s national team at numerous open water World Championships, was blown away on his first visit to the Midmar Mile in 2011. “It sets the worldwide bar in every category,” he said.
With the former South African Olympic swimming coach in charge, Pietermaritzburg Seals, the Midmar Mile’s organising club, received money to build an outstanding indoor swimming centre.
It has hosted numerous SA Short Course Swimming Championships, seen world records set in the pool, and seen seven Olympic swimmers produced — Daryl Cronjé, Brendon Dedekind, Ryk Neethling, Terence Parkin, Theo Verster, Darian Townsend and Nick Folker. It has also enabled the club to establish three satellite clubs in Durban North, Ballito and Hillcrest.
“It’s the centre that you have at Seals that shows where the money has gone,” Riddin explained. “Everybody thinks I have put money in my pocket. I am the one that has been a fair bit of a sponsor for Seals and the Midmar Mile along the way.”
A number of people, who did not wish to be named, said Riddin had earned little from the event.
Despite his success in growing the Midmar Mile, Riddin said he had been disappointed by the lack of support from Swimming SA, KZN Aquatics, the Msunduzi Municipality and the KZN Department of Sport and Recreation.
“One year only, the municipality came forward with R 100 000. They reaped the benefits,” he said.