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Midmar Mile swimmer drowned

Durban - A post-mortem carried out on Midmar Mile swimmer Herman “Thabo” van Straten, who died competing in the race on February 8, has shown he drowned.

Police spokesman Captain Lolly Moodley said on Thursday there were no injuries to his body.

Midmar Mile swimmer Herman van Straten pictured with his fiance Shen Jones. Credit: SUPPLIED

Van Straten, a 43-year-old businessman from Joburg, disappeared while swimming in the race’s business relay event two weeks ago.

His body surfaced about 800m from the start of the 1 600m race late last week.

This after a six-day search by the police search and rescue team and Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife.

Van Straten was said to be extremely fit and had trained extensively. He completed last year’s swim in 34 minutes.

His death has seen the safety of the race brought into question.

Race director Wayne Ridden said on Thursday that this had been the saddest moment for him and for race organisers but that it was impossible to guarantee an incident-free event.

Organisers would be looking at “every avenue” available to improve the safety of swimmers at future events, he said.

They had already received suggestions, including from Van Straten’s family and that of Nick Mellet, who died in the same event in 2011.

“I’ve been really impressed with some of the suggestions,” Ridden said.

One had been to station scuba divers in between the lifeguards.

Some, however, were impractical, such as equipping each swimmer with a tracking chip.

This was not financially viable, said Ridden.

Both swimmers who died were males in the 40 to 50 age group and Ridden said they would also be studying this.

Van Straten’s family held a memorial service for him in Joburg on Wednesday. His fiancée, Shené Jones, who raised the alarm when Van Straten did not appear at the finish line, yesterday described the past two weeks as a “terrible and tragic” time.

She has been vocal in calling on race organisers to revise the management of the event.

“I just hope something like this never happens again,” she said.

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