When it comes to long distance swimming in South Africa, one name comes to mind straight away, that of CHAD HO! Just this last weekend he notched up his sixth win at the Midmar Mile, and not only did he win, but did it in style with a new record (17:04). Chad has also represented South Africa in the 2008 Olympics and was the first South African long distance swimmer to bring home a medal, taking the bronze in the 5km marathon at the 2009 FINA World Champs in Italy.
Chad and I met up for a photo session recently and had a chat afterwards.
Sessions with Chad:
Anthony: How did you get into swimming?
Chad: It was actually a safety mechanism so that I could play around the pool, without my mother having to worry, with my two older sisters as they were big swimmers. From there it progressed into the career I have today. So I guess, if it weren’t for my mother getting me into swimming, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Anthony: Why marathon swimming as opposed to sprint swimming?
Chad: I started in the pool as a pool swimmer, and one day i took a bet with my coach that if I did an open water swim, I could miss training the next day. From there it just progressed into 5km and then 10km, and I have enjoyed it so much that I have just stuck to it.
Anthony: In the 2008 Olympics you came ninth, only 21secs behind the winner. Must have been quite a race?
Chad: 2008 was a huge year for me! Being a youngster, still in matric, and having just turned 18, finishing 21 secs behind the winner was a great achievement me. I set a personal goal of finishing in the top 10, which I achieved, so I was very happy with those results.
Anthony: In 2012 you swam 1:46:29.4 but did not qualify for the Olympics, yet in 2008 you came ninth with a 1:52:13.1, must have been disappointing having swum a lot quicker time?
Chad: Times for open water is very difficult due to open water conditions with wind, currents etc. But in open water swimming, it is actual placings that count as opposed to time, and I was unfortunate to be out of the placings, hence I did not go. So it is more about placings, and it is that which we work towards, as opposed to time.
Anthony: What does it take to be a marathon swimmer, basically your training schedule?
Chad: It takes a lot of preparation! I am in the pool at least 10x a week for 2hrs at a time swimming anywhere from 6km to 8km a session. Generally we go about 80km a week of just pure swimming. Then the extras I put on top of it, gym sessions and run sessions. So a lot of hard work goes into being a long distance swimmer.
Anthony: Do you follow any sort of strict diet?
Chad: Diet hasn’t been one of the things I have focused on throughout my career, I believe that you don’t have to be super strict, weigh everything and boil everything, but if you do everything in moderation it’s fine. I generally keep it healthy, having my protein, carb’s and veggies, so just following a basic diet plan.
Anthony: Majority of your long distance swims are either 5km or 10km, so is Midmar Mile not too short for you?
Chad: Yes, Midmar Mile is a lot shorter than I am used to. I do kind of see it as a sprint but it is still long enough to do well in. By the end of the race I am getting into my “stride” and still have enough fuel in the tank to give it a push at the end.
Anthony: What is your most memorable swim to date?
Chad: I have a few swims that are up there – obviously the 2008 Olympics is up there and then also when I won a bronze medal at the World Championships for the 5km which was outstanding, being the first South African to do that. I would say those are my 2 best swims in my career so far.
Anthony: End of last year you took part in the Ocean Heroes event with Wade Krieger, and in fact, was the only person to beat him in an event. How was the Ocean Heroes event for you?
Chad Ho: Ocean Heroes is something completely different and new to me. With being a social lifesaver, Wade asked me to join him. I am not up to scratch as the case with Wade, but, yes, with the surf swim anything can happen and I enjoy it. Certainly wouldn’t mind doing it a little more often.
Anthony: What holds for Chad Ho in 2015?
Chad: Yes, 2015 is a huge year for me. Starting with the Midmar Mile, then the following week there is another Mile in Cape Town. Then two weeks later I have SA Open water Champs in Cape Town. Then later on in the year, World Championships, in Russia, which acts as the first round of qualifying for the Olympics, so hopefully I can be in the top 10 there and qualify for Olympics. Then waiting to hear if they are sending a team to the World Student Games and hopefully I will go to that. So going to be quite a busy year, but looking forward to it and preparations are going well.
Good luck to Chad in his preparations for 2016 Olympics ….