The aQuellé Midmar Mile in South Africa is coming up. The world’s largest open water swimming race is an extravaganza like no other.

But, it was not always that way. It was a long road to its current success, building the race year after year.

Its race staff and volunteers worked hard and strategically to attract swimmers of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. Below is its year-by-year evolution of the 1.6K event.

From Olympians and medalists to world champions and world record holders, the Midmar Mile attracts celebrities and celebrity swimmers year in and year out.

This year, Olympic Marathon Swimming 10km gold medal favorite Keri-Anne Payne will be back to defend her title and famed stage swimmer Martin Strel will share his experiences with others in the race across the Midmar Reservoir.

1974 – 153 swimmers

1975 – 220 swimmers

1976 – 634 swimmers

1977 – 1,021 swimmers

1978 – 1,426 swimmers

1979 – 1,892 swimmers

1980 – 2,500 swimmers

1981 – 3,000 swimmers

1982 – 3,000 swimmers

1983 – unknown

1984 – 2,555 swimmers

1985 – 2,454 swimmers

1986 – 3,200 swimmers

1987 – 3,500 swimmers

1988 – 3,916 swimmers

1989 – 3,700 swimmers

1990 – 4,000 swimmers

1991 – 4,890 swimmers

1992 – 4,400 swimmers

1993 – 4,724 swimmers

1994 – 5,027 swimmers

1995 – 6,140 swimmers

1996 – 6,925 swimmers

1997 – 7,774 swimmers

1998 – 9,600 swimmers

1999 – 10,045 swimmers

2000 – 10,045 swimmers

2001 – 12,214 swimmers

2002 – 13,218 swimmers

2003 – 16,050 swimmers

2004 – 17,332 swimmers

2005 – 17,087 swimmers

2006 – 16,696 swimmers

2007 – 16,853 swimmers

2008 – 19,013 swimmers

2009 – 17,575 swimmers

Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source