Olympic gold medallist Cameron van der Burgh will take a day off from his Rio preparation to visit the SPAR River Mile Festival on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth this weekend.
Van der Burgh, who won the 100m breaststroke in a world record time at the London Olympics, said he would mingle with entrants and spectators at the 92nd River Mile, which takes place at Cannonville on the Sundays River tomorrow and Sunday.
“Sunday is my day off and I am looking forward to attend this historic open-water swimming event,” said the 27-year-old.
“Events of this nature play a pivotal role in swimming development and in promoting an active and healthy lifestyle in a fun way.
Race director Michael Zoetmulder, of Zsports, said they were thrilled to welcome Van der Burgh to Africa’s oldest open-water swimming event.
“He is a great role model for young and old and people will get the opportunity to talk to him and to be inspired by his remarkable knowledge and achievements.”
Van der Burgh, a veteran of two Olympic Games and a two-time overall winner of the Fina World Cup, said he had his sights set on a repeat performance in Rio this August.
“London was undoubtedly the highlight of my swimming career. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
The South African swimming icon said he first took the water as a kid to combat his attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity (ADHD).
“My mother suggested swimming as a means to help me get rid of my pent-up energy and it has worked wonders.”
He said giving his all in the pool bettered his ability to focus in other areas of life, which included his part-time financial management studies through Unisa.
“I want to keep swimming at the top level until after the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. By then I’ll be 32 and probably have to start looking at getting a real job.”
After his visit to the River Mile, he will focus on the Olympic qualifying rounds in Durban in April. This will be followed by training blocks in Europe and the United States before heading to the Olympics.
Apart from the various swimming, running and mountain biking events, the Wimpy Rotary Kids’ Zone, Castle Beer Tent and stalls will provide festivalgoers with plenty of entertainment.
The SPAR River Mile Festival, which gets underway at 8am daily, supports the Smile Foundation and Cleft Friends. Entry is R20 per person.
Go to www.rivermile.co.za or SPAR EC in Action on Facebook for more information.