Love story: Cassandra Wright and Chad Ho will celebrate Valentine’s Day with their 7-month-old-daughter, Harley-Janne. Ho, who has won the Midmar Mile seven times, will be competing in tomorrow’s race.	Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)
Love story: Cassandra Wright and Chad Ho will celebrate Valentine’s Day with their 7-month-old-daughter, Harley-Janne. Ho, who has won the Midmar Mile seven times, will be competing in tomorrow’s race. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)

DURBAN - Ranked as one of the fastest professional open water swimmers in the world, Durban’s Chad Ho will compete for his 8th win in the Aquelle Midmar Mile 2018 race on Sunday.

And whether he wins or not, his two biggest fans, fiancée Cassandra Wright and their baby daughter Harley-Janne will be cheering him on. This week, the couple met The Independent on Saturday and when asked about what they have planned for Valentine’s Day, both agreed that spontaneity is the way to go when it comes to romance. 

Open water swimmer Chad Ho opens up on love, family and the Midmar Mile. Video: Tanya Waterworth

“There’s so much pressure on Valentine’s Day for partners to do something, and then be disappointed if they don’t. I prefer it if Chad brings me something nice on any normal day when I’m not expecting it,” says Cassandra, with Chad adding “it’s better to do something out of the blue”. 

While the couple have been together for close to six years, Cassandra says they had been dating for about four months before she realised just how high a profile her partner held in the world of international swimming. 

“When we met, he mentioned he was a swimmer but I thought he just did casual swimming. But when people kept coming up to us in malls, I realised I had been living under a rock. After about four months, I googled him,” she says.

And according to both it was a case of “opposites attract” as they fell in love. 

“What I love most about Chad is that he’s so different to me. He’s calm and mellowed out and I’m always rushing around. If I get stressed out, he brings me back to reality,” says Cassandra, while Chad adds, “apart from when Cassandra is working and I’m training, we spend all our time together. I’m so mellowed, she brings balance to the whole relationship.”

And the couple clearly dote on their 7-month-old Harley-Janne who gurgles contentedly throughout the interview and is quite happy to have her photo taken. 

“We are both very hands-on parents. I love being a dad,” says Chad.

Cassandra says: “People told me a baby can put stress on your relationship, but we have found it has strengthened our relationship. But I knew he (Chad) was going to be very good as a dad.”

And looking towards the Midmar Mile tomorrow, Chad says his training schedule has remained the same: around two hours every morning and evening, a total of 16km a day.

“I’m not particularly strict about diet, but I do also do some gym workouts after afternoon training. The Midmar Mile will be my first race this year and I’ll be competing in the Sanlam Cape Mile the next weekend. We’ll see how those races go and then reassess as to the year ahead,” he says. 

And when it comes to his chances for another win and what he thinks of the international swimmers he will be competing against, 
Chad says: “I can only control how I swim during the race. I don’t worry about other swimmers. I will focus on my swim and put in the best performance I can.”

And is baby Harley-Janne destined to be a swimmer like her dad? 

“She will definitely learn how to swim, that’s important. But whether it’s competitive swimming will be up to her. We will encourage her in all sports,” says Cassandra. 

Educated at Westville Boys’ High School, Chad Ho shot to prominence in the world of open water swimming when he won the overall series title at the 2010 Fina World Cup and then in 2015, won a world championship title in the Open Water 5km at the Fina World Championships.

Known as the largest open water race in the world, the 2018 Aquelle Midmar Mile starts today with the main races taking place tomorrow. 

More than 12 000 entries were expected.