News24

Swimmer found near start line

2011-02-17 09:42

Durban - Police Search and Rescue teams have recovered the body of the swimmer who went missing during the aQuelle Midmar Mile over the weekend.

Nico Mellet, 45, is thought to have drowned during the event on Saturday. 

Officials realised he was missing when his coded tag did not register at the finish line on Saturday.

More than 16 000 swimmers participated in the event, which is the largest open water swim in the world.

According to the EastCoastRadio website, Jack Haskins, who is with the Police Search and Rescue Unit, said they found Mellet's body on Wednesday afternoon near the starting line following a massive search operation at the dam in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands.

“At approximately 14:00 the deceased surfaced. He was approximately 500 metres from the start of the Midmar Mile,” Haskins said.

"We've had eight navy divers, as well as 10 South African Police divers from Pietermaritzburg and Port Shepstone, as well as two Search and Rescue dog handlers that were all involved," he said.

Haskins says the discovery will give the family some closure.

"The family has been by our sides from day one. They've sat with us from day one, right up until the last minute," he said.

A post mortem will be conducted.

 

Sport24

Comments
  • Really?? - 2011-02-17 09:54

    Condolences to the family.. may he rest in peace...

  • smurf99 - 2011-02-17 10:05

    I feel very sad for this man's family. A real sad loss. But there are some swimmers who are so selfish out there. My daughter nearly drowned at the Midmar Mile this year because one of the Gold Chariety swimmers decided to go over her, thus pushing her under. This man was a big man and to me he was plain selfish in what he did. he is no sportsman. Who knows, the same thing could have happened to Mr. Mellet.

      Chuck - 2011-02-17 11:38

      Clearly you haven't done a swim of this nature - if you did you would realise it is mayhem out there, there's a whole bunch of swimmers trying to get out there and into the clear so that you can get away from all of the people, you are swallowing litres of water as you try to get into the race and find your rhythm, and with most people having only trained in pools, things are very different in the open water. I myself swam into people and had other people swimming into me, it's unavoidable in most cases, and really it is just part of the sport - it has nothing to do with being a bad sportsman - I mean seriously, do you think he did it on purpose? I guarantee you it is less tiring swimming through the water than physically over people, if he could have avoided it, he would have. My condolences to Nico's family, it's a horrible thing to happen, but I can vouch for the organisers, they do their absolute utmost to make it a safe race, and their safety record speaks for itself.

      FerretGee - 2011-02-17 11:47

      I have to say that knowing the Charity swimmers and their organisers, it is highly unlikley that he deliberately swam over your daughter. Those swimmers all know the rules and that is certainly not tolerated. It is thought though that Mr Mellet suffered a heart attack which caused his drowning.

      olw - 2011-02-19 10:32

      Yep, been through that scrum a few times. Some competitors are downright bloody-minded. The first time I did it I was completely unprepared for the swarm that engulfed me and almost dragged me under a few times. I drank about a litre of Midmar water and had my cozzie pulled half off before I started smacking anyone who tried to swim over me. The organisers partly resolved the problem by staggering the event over 2 days, but when you have hundreds in each stage because you're out to break records, you have to have more safety marshalls, lifeguards and boats on the water. Condolences to the family.

  • gwilky - 2011-02-17 10:23

    This tragedy has been nicly handled by the organisers!!! terrific event dispite this loss!! and i look forward to doing alot more midmar miles...

  • Ignobilis - 2011-02-17 10:52

    smurf99, while I don't condone what happened to your daughter, I think that the kind of situation you describe is inevitable in a race where swimmers who are swimming for line honours are mixed up with the fun crowd. If you are swimming hard with your head down, you don't see who is ahead of you and collisions are going to happen. Any swimmer who isn't up to the rigours of competitive swimming should stay out of the seeded batch, it is as simple as that. "Nearly drowing" because someone swam over your her means that she shouldn't have been in that batch. Yes, it will always be uncomfortable and perhaps even unnecessary to have someone swim over you, but there is no way it should cause you to nearly drown.

      Shanil - 2011-02-17 11:31

      You are ignorant and insensetive Ignobilis. We can't have blind people swimming over children. Where is the sense of sportmanship? This poor man probably lost his life because some idiot decided to swim over him.What's more important, getting a good time or life? do you realise how many peoples lives will be affected as a result of this loss? Please get a life and your priorities right.

      MollyP - 2011-02-17 11:37

      I often find that the younger swimmers insist on moving to the front of the pack at the start. This causes serious problems as they are not all at the same pace as faster swimmers and are often swum over or collided with as there is nowhere else to go. My condolences to the Mellet family. I hope that his death will raise awareness to standards of lifesaving in our races to hopefully prevent a reoccurence.

      Allo Allo - 2011-02-17 11:42

      Shanil, you will probably find that he suffered a heart attack or stroke which would have caused almost instant death (ie:not drowning) or incipacitated him which caused drowning. Ignoblis is correct in his summation of competeive swimming or swimming in crowds. No-one is trying to push you under, it happens in crowds. If this is serious cause for concern the the event orgonisers must limit the entries. No need to call someone ignorant, its a tragedy to lose anyone like this but unlikely to have had anything to do with the nature of a crowded competitive event. Condolences to the family.

      FerretGee - 2011-02-17 12:01

      Shanil - We have an event for the blind and disabled swimmers, they do not swim over anyone! Allo Allo summed it up quite correctly when he said the youngsters rush to the front and then get caught up in the melee. The seeded batch (Orange caps) are all swimmers who have done the seeding events and qualify for this group. If smurf99's daughter was in this group, the she would have done one of those events where, the same kind of start is done, ie all swimmers rushing to the water to get the best spo t and she could have had the same thing happen to her. The 8 milers are not swimming for fastest time and all usually all starting to the left of the start tower. Once in the water it is "head down and swim" but I find it hard to believe that he deliberately swam over her.

      FerretGee - 2011-02-17 12:04

      Shanil - We have an event for the blind and disabled swimmers, they do not swim over anyone! Allo Allo summed it up quite correctly when he said the youngsters rush to the front and then get caught up in the melee. The seeded batch (Orange caps) are all swimmers who have done the seeding events and qualify for this group. If smurf99's daughter was in this group, the she would have done one of those events where, the same kind of start is done, ie all swimmers rushing to the water to get the best spot and she could have had the same thing happen to her. The 8 milers are not swimming for fastest time and all usually all starting to the left of the start tower. Once in the water it is "head down and swim" but I find it hard to believe that he deliberately swam over her.

  • Ingie - 2011-02-17 11:27

    Id rather stay out it full stop. I woud drown with all those people and I know a friend who did it 1st time who started to panic. I wold never cope with all those bodies. Condolences to teh family..what a sad outcome

      hf44083 - 2011-02-17 11:50

      There are many different races, all with different starting times, not all 16 000 people plough into the water at once, If swimmers are not prepared for the conditions they should not be entering something of this magnitude. Accidents happen and are very tragic.

  • Janine - 2011-02-17 11:45

    Surely it would make sense to have a staggered start like they do at cycling events?

      FerretGee - 2011-02-17 12:03

      The start is staggered. 3 minute intervals between batches

      Paul George - 2011-02-17 12:09

      Read the rules, The start is staggered with 3min intervals for events and 5 min intervals for non company event

      happyfeet - 2011-02-17 12:10

      They do Janine. Every race has 5 different categories that start at 3 minute intervals.

      whiney - 2011-02-17 13:54

      Staggered starts and smaller starting groups (seeded on the previous year's race) is the answer. All take part with timing chips so it's no big deal to have many starting groups. It's time that the organizers of Midmar and similar mass start events take heed and do something about it to make swimming races safer, especially tryning to elliminate teh chaos that happens when rounding the first buoy.

      Mike - 2011-02-17 16:55

      you dont round any buoys you swim past them this is a straight race not an obstacle course,yes the start is everybody for themselves unfortunately time restraints put younger persons with older persons a mature man weighing 100kg potentially and does swim over and through much lighter youths its the nature of the race,i doubt very much that this was the cause of Mr Mellets tragic demise i feel very deeply for the family,issues of lifeguards and safety probably wouldnt have helped this gentleman unfortunately heart problems are very prevalent in this age group we think we are fit and healthy ,tragedy strikes when you least expect it,i attended a funeral of a man who lost his life in the recent air disaster in Plett those left behind is tragic to see the pain they endure so yes my heart goes out to all who loose a loved one no matter what the circumstances or the age.Ferrett Gee thankyou for your input ive followed this column with great intensity Midmar was a family outing for us for over a decade we loved competing

  • 1eye - 2011-02-17 11:55

    Condolences to the family RIP From what I have read about the gentleman, I very much doubt his passing was as a result of somebody swimming over him. In the Midmar people are going to swim over and be swum over I think the point that people are drowing because of being swum over is a tad streched.

  • happyfeet - 2011-02-17 12:11

    condolences to the family, and well done to the rescue crews for your tireless efforts to find him. My thoughts and prayers go out to all who knew him.

  • Frankie - 2011-02-17 12:12

    No need to speculate and post blame - post mortem will sort that out. Scenario's could have been a kick to the head, panick, heart failure. Only thing for sure is the tragic loss of a father, a husband, a person who set out to do something to make his kids proud, to be the hero to his wife, to chase his own dreams - it's to be respected. RIP...

      Mike - 2011-02-17 16:59

      so true well said

  • ignorance - 2011-02-17 12:12

    This really was a tragedy, however all participates are aware of the dangers of the swim or swimming in general, such as that posted by "smurf99". Congratulations to all those who participated, as they have the courage to challenge limits very few of us have the nerve to cross. Our sincere condolences to the family of Nick Mellet.

  • MactheKnife - 2011-02-17 12:31

    My condolences to the Mellet family. This bring me to a point...all comments posted here are valid without seriously attacking one another and makes good for reading. Well done to all. I mention this coz most of the comments elsewhere race is brought into discussion with a lot of the obsenity.

  • NodrogBob - 2011-02-17 12:36

    Isn't everyone jumping the gun here, let's wait for a postmortem before we draw conclusions as to what actually happened. It is possible that the person could have had some medical condition that led to this.

  • whiney - 2011-02-17 13:57

    Staggered starts and smaller starting groups (seeded on the previous year's race) is the answer to make mass start swimming races safer. All swimmers take part with timing chips so it's no big deal to have many starting groups. It's time that the organizers of Midmar and similar mass start events (like IM)take heed and do something about it to make swimming races safer, especially trying to elliminate the chaos that happens when rounding the first buoy. Reply to whiney | 1 reply ()

  • whiney - 2011-02-17 14:07

    Staggered starts and smaller starting groups (seeded on the previous year's race) is the answer for safer mass start swimming races. All swimmerstake part with timing chips so it's no big deal to have many starting groups. It's time that the organizers of Midmar and similar mass start events (e.g IM) take heed and do something about it to make swimming races safer, especially trying to elliminate the chaos that happens when rounding the first buoy.

      JIKELA - 2011-02-17 18:09

      There mile consists of 8 races over 2 days. Furthermore the start of each race is staggered as swimmers start in one of 5 different batches. It is crowded at the start and for the first 200 metres or so - any race in water or on land is. I have swum 12 midmar mile races and can tell you that many people, young and old, male and female, panic at the start. Nothing the organisers can do about that. It is up to the individual to manage themselves.

  • cromagnon - 2011-02-17 14:34

    I remember my first triathlon.... I did not expect the swim to start of like it did. a swimmers vision is a little bit obscured, the first few minutes felt like I was caught in a storm, with arms and legs everywhere. Children and newcomers can play it safe by starting at the back, or on the sides.

  • cromagnon - 2011-02-17 14:37

    I remember my first triathlon.... I did not expect the swim to start of like it did. a swimmers vision is a little bit obscured, the first few minutes felt like I was caught in a storm, with arms and legs everywhere. Children and newcomers can play it safe by starting at the back, or on the sides.

  • lac - 2011-02-17 15:28

    KickScratchBite - this is commonplace at the start to a Midmar swim - especially amongst the top-seeded swimmers. A young adult swimmer who has 15yrs experience says that the 2011 start was the worst she's ever experienced and has the bruises & scratches (broken skin) to back up her claim. Last year she was bitten on her leg!!! It's quite incredible that there have not been any drownings prior to this year - it's a survival battle out there!!! Very little that the organisers can do to curb the barbaric behaviour. It IS tolerated, because it happens every year. Sincere condolences to the Mellet family. Our thoughts are with you in your sadness.

      FerretGee - 2011-02-17 22:03

      lac, why is it we only hear of the young adult swimmers "bite" a year after it happened? I watch every start of every race every year and whilst it is quite frantic, to call it barbaric is being sensational. There is no doubt that swimmer may get scractched or kicked, but it is certainly not deliberate and it is less prevalent than you make it out to be. It is the nature of the event that at a mass start, people will get in each others way. The reality is, is that there are maybe 20 swimmers in each event who are likely to win the race, they tend to strike out in front, the rest just do a mad dash to the water, which they are advised NOT to do but never adhere to the advice. Those 5 or 6 seconds running to the water make no difference to the overall time for the average swimmer. Every year we tell the swimmers not to run from the start pens to the start line, but they NEVER listen. We do all we can to keep the event safe. Mr Mellets death is a tragedy for the family first and foremost and to the organisers as a whole. At any mass start event there will be pushing and shoving, be it Comrades, Dusi or Midmar Mlle, there is no other way for us to make it any easier.

  • lac - 2011-02-17 15:38

    KickScratchBite - this is commonplace at the start to a Midmar swim - especially amongst the top-seeded swimmers. A young adult swimmer who has 15yrs experience says that the 2011 start was the worst she's ever experienced and has the bruises & scratches (broken skin) to back up her claim. Last year she was bitten on her leg!!! It's quite incredible that there have not been any drownings prior to this year - it's a survival battle out there!!! Very little that the organisers can do to curb the barbaric behaviour. It IS tolerated, because it happens every year. Sincere condolences to the Mellet family. Our thoughts are with you in your sadness.

  • masterjane007 - 2011-02-18 11:04

    "A post mortem will be conducted." A post morem???? What is that? A post mortem WHAT? What is happening to the reporting standards in this country??!!

      Moegaapie - 2011-02-18 11:58

      WTF you on about?? Geez get a life - you know what they mean.

      Colin - 2011-02-18 12:36

      WTF are you rabbiting on about??

  • MidmarSwim - 2011-02-18 14:15

    We swam this years event and were very much swallowed up into this tragedy. We were there on Saturday and heard the desparate announcements, also on the Sunday. There are still so many unanswered questions. I hope the media handle the need for information responsibly. We need to understand what went wrong and was there anything that could have prevented it. I had my two daughters there with stars in their eyes - they wanted to swim next year. Then this terrible thing happened.

  • rob j - 2011-02-19 06:41

    Well done everyone - keeping the focus on the event. So refreshing to read comments without all the usual rubbish

  • Wouter - 2011-02-19 23:13

    Truly tragic. RIP boet.

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