Family affair for the Markgraaffs as they target aQuellé Midmar Mile glory

aquatics02 February 2024 08:57
By:Karien Jonckheere
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Ryno Markgraaff © Action Photo SA

For many years, the Albertyn family have cleaned up when it comes to dominating the various age group categories at the aQuellé Midmar Mile. But there’s a new name that keeps popping up at the top of race results, and this year could see the Markgraaffs giving the Albertyns a run for their money.

At the final seeding event ahead of this year’s aQuellé Midmar Mile, which took place at Prime View Adventure & Leisure in Midrand, Ryno Markgraaff claimed top honours in the 41-50 age group with his brother, Henk, coming in second. Meanwhile, Henk’s son, Carter, took the 13 and under title and his daughter, Leah, finished fourth in the girls’ race.

“We are a family of six. Both my sisters swam [for South Africa] in the late 80s and early 90s, and me and Henk in the late 90s, early 2000s,” explained Ryno, who like Henk competed for Cleveland State University in the USA.

Ryno still participates in Masters competitions and has claimed numerous age group titles at the aQuellé Midmar Mile, including in the 41-50 age group last year. He is no stranger to top-class swimming, having represented South Africa on numerous occasions on teams that also featured some of the country’s Olympic heroes such as Penny Heyns, Ryk Neethling, Terence Parkin – and the Princess of Monaco, Charlene Wittstock.

Henk has represented the country at junior level at the Triathlon World Championships and has only recently returned to swimming after his children started to excel in the sport.

“I’ve just started training again after a long time not swimming so it’s nice to get back into it. I’m hoping to do well and keep on improving until Midmar,” he said after the seeding swim.

The Centurion-based brothers are eager for a repeat of their success when they arrive in KwaZulu-Natal for the aQuellé Midmar Mile next weekend.

“We’re just hoping for a good race,” reckoned Ryno. “It’s always a very challenging age group… it’s a really good race actually, it’s a lot of fun, and both of us are going to be in that race.”

Meanwhile, the Albertyns will also be out in full force with Gary aiming to defend his 51-60 age-group title while also tackling the gruelling 16-mile Charity Challenge for a ninth time. His daughter, Kaitlyn, will take on the 8-mile Charity Challenge while his son, Connor, will be returning from the World Aquatics Championships in Doha to compete in the men’s elite race. All three will compete in the family team event.