Pretoria resident and 16 Mile Club member Gary Albertyn, pictured here at last year’s aQuellé Midmar Mile, once again swam a total of 16 miles at this weekend’s event to raise funds for the Duzi Umngeni Conservation Trust
Midmar Mile organisers announced that  R3.1 million has been raised for charity - a staggering 55% increase on the R2m from last year’s event. 

The world's largest open water swim - the 45th aQuelle Midmar Mile - took place this past weekend, with around 13 000 swimmers taking part.

Swimmers from across the country descended on Midmar Dam near Pietermaritzburg for event.  

Drawing amateur and serious athletes of all ages, this past weekend’s event saw many swimmers raise funds for causes ranging from cancer to water awareness as Day Zero draws closer in the Western Cape.

Stan Kozlowski, chairman of the main fundraising initiative, the 8 Mile Club said:  “Not all EFT’s made over the weekend have come in yet. 

"We’ll also keep fundraising open for a few more weeks to give people a chance to hit their targets. But it’s an impressive number regardless.” 

“I’d imagine by the end of this week the 8 Mile Club alone will have surpassed the R3-million mark. We're currently sitting on R2.98m raised, with the 16 Mile Club having raised R113 000”.

Among the competitors were the 200-plus members of the 8 Mile and 16 Mile clubs.

The 8-Milers – so called for the distance each member swims for charity – each swam the eight-mile-long events on Saturday and Sunday to collect as much money as possible for their seven chosen charities. 

These included breast cancer charity Pink Drive, Singakwenza Education and Health, Childhood Cancer Foundation (CHOC), Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation, KZN Wildlife for Save the Rhino, Wildlands Conservation Trust and the Cancer Association of South Africa. 

Their 16 Mile Club counterparts raised funds for the Duzi Umngeni Conservation Trust (DUCT), which is dedicated to protecting the uMsunduzi and uMngeni rivers.

Gary Albertyn, 49, of Pretoria, swam his first 16-Miler for DUCT two years ago. This past weekend he swam with Cape Town’s looming “Day Zero” in mind.

“I think that with the reality of Day Zero looming in Cape Town and the water restrictions that exist in many parts of our country, clean water sources are more important than ever. DUCT provides a life-changing service and being part of the fundraising team for them is an honour,” said Albertyn.

Race director Wayne Riddin said the spin-off of the event as a major national fundraiser showed the true heart of South Africans.

“We are incredibly happy that it has become a platform for swimmers to challenge themselves both physically and mentally, and to challenge their friends and families to contribute to their fundraising efforts,” said Riddin.