Cape Town - British swimming star Ashley Hogg has come
nail-bitingly close to victory at the Midmar Mile - and he’s determined
this time he’ll top the podium.
Hogg will be one of the main international threats, along
with American Brendan Casey, in the main men’s race when the world’s largest
open water swimming event takes place at the Midmar Dam from February 8-9.
The 21-year-old university student finished second in 2018
and fifth in last year’s race, but he’s determined to finally get that win under
his belt - particularly in Olympic year.
“Coming close to gold a couple of times in the past has
taught me valuable tactical lessons, both borne from my errors and others'
successes,” he explained.
“I have not only learnt more from coming so close,
but I am also more driven to get that win.
“It is an Olympic year, so everybody will be nearing their best
in preparation to grab one of the limited Olympic qualifying places. There will
be, unquestionably, tough opposition this year, but I am as prepared as
possible and excited to see how I stack up.”
Hogg, who is currently completing a Masters degree in
chemistry in Manchester, relishes the opportunity to leave his soggy hometown
behind for the warmer climes of KwaZulu-Natal each year.
“The Midmar Mile comes at a time when there are few
competitions across Europe, and the conditions in the winter months don't lend
themselves well to swimming outdoors. It is essential that we keep race-ready
during these months, and Midmar allows us to race against the world’s best
while in hard mid-season training,” he said.
As for the event itself, Hogg can’t say enough about what it
offers visiting swimmers.
“There are very few races that I have been to in any country
that can provide the same year-on-year guarantee of a world-class field, a
strong sense of welcome and community, and impeccable organisation. This consistency
is something that, as an athlete, allows us to focus on what we need to,
without worry - swimming fast. This, along with the fantastically warm
reception we receive as international competitors, makes for such an enjoyable
event. My team-mate, Bailey Hairsine, and I haven't hesitated in coming back for
the last three years now.
“Every time I race the Midmar Mile, I am reminded of how
kind and hospitable the people are. I find this rings true across the event,
from seasoned competitors and first-time swimmers alike. Whether we are racing
out of category on our warm-up swims or finding something to eat at lunchtime,
there is always a friendly face welcoming us. It is this sense of community,
with thousands of people racing for their individual goals, all over two days,
which gives the event a unique and special feeling.”
Like with so many other Olympic hopefuls, the Midmar
Mile will give Hogg the first chance of the year to test himself.
“Training is currently going to plan. I had a later start to
the season than I expected, due to illness, but my times in training are
indicating that I'm back on track. I am confident that my endurance training
will pay off, as I have started to see. I am still in the very early stages for
the season's speed work. Midmar will be the first test of how much speed has
been retained through this block of work; that will be key to my success in the
Already among his list of career achievements is a bronze
medal at the 2018 Wuhan Marathon Grand Prix in China, finishing in the top
eight at the World Junior Open Water Championships, and claiming top honours at
the British Open Water Swim Series. Adding a first Midmar crown to that list
would be the best possible start to his Olympic qualifying campaign.
For more information on the Midmar Mile, head to www.midmarmile.co.za