Courtesy of Lexie Kelly, aQuellé Midmar Mile, Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Arguably, the most competitive, most highly anticipated open water race of the year will occur this Sunday at the Midmar Dam in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

The 2016 Olympic champion Ferry Weertman from the Netherlands will face his long-time rival from South Africa Chad Ho [shown above] in the 44th annual aQuellé Midmar Mile.

The visiting 24-year-old Dutchman beat Ho by only 5 seconds in the 10 km marathon swim in Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro (1:52:59.8 to 1:53:04.8).

With only two years separating the two world-class swimmers, Weertman and Ho fully expect many more years of heated competition. But while Weertman is the reigning Olympic champion, the Midmar Dam has been the home court for Ho for the last 7 years.

Seven consecutive years, Ho has faced the best of Africa and some of the best in the world and defeated them all in one of his favorite places to race. “But winning his 8th consecutive race will require Ho to reach down arguably more deeply than he has ever before,” predicts Steven Munatones.

Ferry has all the skills and talents and speed to beat Chad. He can swim straight as can be, he understands how best to race among the dynamic conditions of winds and sun glare, and he is extraordinarily competitive. Chad really has his hands full this weekend. On the other hand, no one knows this course like Chad. Just as Ferry has the confidence of an Olympic champion, Chad has the well-deserved confidence of a local champion defending his turf.”

Weertman explained his call to action. “Pain is not my enemy, it’s my call to greatness.”

But the darkhorses in this mano-a-mano battle include former American world and national champion Chip Peterson and South African 1500m Olympian Matthew Meyer.

Ho and Weerten will be seeing each other many times after this weekend, regardless who stands on top of the podium. “The first big event of my year is the aQuellé Midmar Mile,” said Ho. “After that, I’ll be focusing on the 17th FINA World Championships to be held in Hungary in July. And absolutely, the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 is 110% my long-term goal and my sights are set.”

Same with Weertman.

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