Sharon van Rouwendaal Conquers Maiden aQuellé Midmar Mile

World 10km champion Sharon van Rouwendaal lived up to her billing as the pre-race favourite, as she won the women’s title at the aQuellé Midmar Mile on Sunday, 12 February 2023.

The Netherlands’ Van Rouwendaal, who was visiting South Africa for the first time to take part in the world’s largest open-water swimming event dominated the women’s race from the start. While she had four-time champion Ashley Twichell of the USA on her feet for much of the race, Van Rouwendaal had plenty in the tank to take the win in 18 minutes 40 seconds.

Twichell, who was back at the race after the birth of her first child, was second in 18:44 with defending Midmar champion Stephanie Houtman the first South African home in 19:29 for third place.

“I was already challenged in the first 100 or 200m so I thought I need to get out of here and find the position in front and then just control whether people were trying to pass or not,” said Van Rouwendaal, who claimed Olympic marathon swimming gold in 2016 and silver in 2021.

“Then I think around halfway I turned on my back and I saw there was only one person [close by] and I saw it was Ashley so I knew I had to be careful… when I saw the finish, I thought I’d build it up a little bit to get the win.”

Speaking about swimming the much shorter distance of a mile rather than her usual 10km, the Dutch star added: “It’s interesting because you have to start fast and then you’re hurting a little bit. Then you have to sit on a comfortable speed and you have to build up again so it’s very good to race something like this… I’m really happy I came here and experienced this.”

Houtman admitted: “It felt like a very different race to last year. In the beginning it was very cramped and then towards halfway I finally got my space and I just swam. I saw there were a few people in the front but I didn’t actually know I came third when I came out. I was kind of shocked. I thought I was fourth or fifth or something so I’m very chuffed.”

 

Main Event Results
Women’s Elite:

1.Sharon van Rouwendaal 18:40
2.Ashley Twichell 18:44
3.Stephanie Houtman 19:29
4.Tory Earle 19:42
5.Samantha Randle 19:52
6.Carli Antonopoulos 19:58
7.Sash Corris 19:59
8.Callan Lotter 19:59
9.Amica de Jager 20:00
10.Michelle Weber 20:03

 

Photo 1 Caption: World 10km champion Sharon van Rouwendaal lived up to her billing as the pre-race favourite, as she won the women’s title at the aQuellé Midmar Mile on Sunday, 12 February 2023. Photo: Action Photo SA

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