Pearson High School swimming star Ian Venter has shown outstanding form this season, but he knows he will need all his wits about him when he challenges for the SPAR River Mile title on Sunday.
The 17-year-old matric pupil, runner-up to Daniel Jones last year, is looming as one of the favourites for the men’s feature event when the two-day SPAR Summer Festival reaches a climax in the resort town of Cannonville just outside Port Elizabeth this weekend.
The festival will end with the women’s and men’s races taking place at 1.30pm and 2.30pm in the Sundays River respectively.
Given the legacy of the River Mile, Africa’s oldest open water swimming event which started in 1924, Venter said he was keen to deliver a good performance.
But he does not want to put any pressure on himself or reveal any particular strategy for the race.
“My goal for the River Mile includes just swimming my own race and fixing a few mistakes I’ve made in the race in the past,” he said.
“I just want to race it as well as I can after the Stellenbosch leg of the Grand Prix circuit the day before where I will be competing in the 50m and 200m backstroke.”
Venter, who has grown up in Port Elizabeth, said tactics played a critical role in open water swimming, compared to the pool.
The lines you swim and the current had to be taken into account, he said.
“The River Mile always tends to be a tough race and things always get interesting with the run out of the water.
“This often determines the difference between first and second.”
Venter, who attended Summerwood Primary before moving to Pearson, said he was pleased with his form as he focused on the national championships in early April.
“But there is definitely still work to be done and some small things to get right in the last few weeks.”
He said his biggest achievements this season had been winning the open provincial titles in the 200m backstroke and the 400m, 3 000m and 5 000m freestyle.
“Other achievements include my unbeaten run in the Ocean Racing Series in the last two seasons.”
Venter said he knew there would be stiff opposition, with Nicolas Adam, who was third last year, likely to be among his main competitors. Defending champion Daniel Jones had not entered at the time of going to press.
The festival gets under way on Saturday when there will be mountain bike and fun run races as well as the fun Anything That Floats event.
The double mile, disabled mile and family mile will all be swum on Saturday afternoon, while the children’s races will take place on Sunday morning.
The Smile Foundation and Cleft Friends are the official charity organisations.
To enter or for more info go to www.zsports.co.za.