Johannesburg – London Olympian Troy Prinsloo will be looking to spoil Chad Ho's party when he seeks a third Midmar Mile men's title at the event this weekend.
Ho became the first man ever to complete a hat-trick of victories at the 2012 edition when he won the open title for the third consecutive year.
Prinsloo himself could have been the first to claim the milestone having raced to victory in 2005 and 2006.
He then travelled from the University of Georgia to try to achieve the elusive feat in 2007, however, bad weather led to the only cancellation of the race in its 40-year history.
Should Prinsloo turn the tables this year he would nevertheless join an elite group of men who have won the Midmar Mile three times.
“I would really love to win because it's a huge accomplishment,” Prinsloo said ahead of the race.
“It's something that I will be taking very seriously.”
Other than Ho, only Ryk Neethling and Gareth Fowler had achieved the feat previously, and Prinsloo was determined to join them.
“It's something that I'm taking very seriously,” he said.
“My training hasn't really changed because my main focus is the 10km, but it's something that I think about every day in training.”
The competition between defending champion Ho and Prinsloo had been extremely close in recent years.
At the 2011 National Open Water Swimming Championships they were tied in the 10km race and Prinsloo then edged Ho for the 5km title by 0.32 seconds.
Last year, Prinsloo represented South Africa at the London Olympic Games after he finished fifth in the Games qualifier in Setubal, with Ho in 12th place.
“It was my second Olympics, but London was new for me as it was open water,” Prinsloo said.
“I've been a pool swimmer my whole life, so I only started swimming the 10km two years ago, and it was a good platform to start my open water career because it was only my third international 10km.
“Placing 12th (at the Olympic Games), that was something that I was really proud of and it is something that has given me confidence going into the next few years.”
Ho, however, got the better of Prinsloo in last year's Midmar Mile, winning convincingly by 21 seconds.
“We didn't start together last year, so I plan on starting together this time round,” said Prinsloo.
“That way we can be at the front of the race and put on a good show for everybody, so it's not a race where someone is gone by the first 400 metre-mark.”
“I focus more on the conditions than a point at the finish because there is so much to aim for at the end,” he said.
“If I can have a good start this year – at year I didn't have a good one at all – by starting with Chad, it will be a good race, especially with Mark (Randall) and Myles (Brown) also there.” – Sapa