ENTRIES have opened for one of Africa's oldest open water swimming events, the Spar River Mile, which takes place next month as part of a two-day festival at Sundays River.
Started in 1924 in Redhouse on the Swartkops River, the River Mile has grown into one of Nelson Mandela Bay's premier social events, attracting thousands of social swimmers and spectators each year.
This year's festival takes place on February 23 and24, with family sports events complemented by food, craft, exhibition stalls, a beer garden and entertainment for children in Cannonville, on the Sundays River.
Swimmers can enter on the website (www.rivermile.co.za) or at Brian Band Sports in Newton Park. Participants for the Mile events or Stormforce Prelim kids' race who enter before January 20 will each receive a River Mile T-shirt.
Saturday's programme includes a 5km fun trail run, the Discovery Consulting Services off-road team or individual triathlon, the Second Skins Wetsuit Mile, the Disabled Mile and the family half-mile – a new event which will be part of the Rotary Swimarathon. The Swimarathon raises funds for Rotary's End Polio campaign.
It is part of Rotary's world record attempt to have the most swimmers taking part in a swimming event anywhere in the world on the same day. Hundreds of Rotary clubs around the world will be organising a similar event on the same day.
While Sunday sees the Stormforce Kids prelim races across the river for children 12-years-old and under, the men's and women's mile events will be the feature races, attracting some of South Africa's top open water swimmers. There is a prize pool of R21500.
"This is one of our premier events which we host on behalf of EP Aquatics and this, being the 89th anniversary of the River Mile, will see the start of some fantastic enhancements to the weekend as we prepare for next year's milestone," event organiser Mike Zoetmulder of Zports said.
Entrance to the festival is R20, with children under 12 going free.