Quadruple amputee to swim Midmar Mile

Craig Dietz

American quadruple amputee Craig Dietz will make a return to the event for the second time, as part of a campaign to raise funds for the Pink Drive charity. The 43-year-old advocate and motivational speaker may have been born without limbs but this has not dampened his passion for an active life.

Dietz took to swimming as a child, after realising it was one hobby he could enjoy with his three able-bodied siblings. Since then he has gone on to be the first quadruple amputee to swim across the 4.4 mile Chesapeake Bay.

He first took part in the aQuelle Midmar Mile in 2013 after accepting an invitation from the event’s convener Wayne Ridden, who was attending the World Open Water conference in the US. Upon his arrival in Pietermaritzburg Dietz met and immediately connected with the head of Learn to Swim in the Midlands, Odette Randelhoff. The two sharing the same zest for life led to Randelhoff assisting him to swim the famed twice in that year’s event, on both the Saturday and the Sunday.

This year’s aQuelle Midmar Mile takes place on 11/12 February and Randelhoff and Dietz plan to do all eight races. With a busy schedule that includes squash and bowls league commitments, Randelhoff admits squeezing in time for training has been difficult. Nevertheless, she tries to swim 1-2km every couple of days. Dietz is based in the US so the two liaise regularly online about their training schedules.

For this year’s race Randelhoff elaborated on how their partnership works. “When the race starts Craig will be on his back doing the ‘wiggly worm’. I will swim at the end of his torso to be able to direct and guide him throughout the race. Every hour and a half we start a new mile.” Randelhoff, who started doing the race in 2012 for CANSA research, said working with Craig has been life changing for her. “I am honoured, excited and privileged to swim with him. I am constantly inspired by his positive frame of mind.”

To contribute to this amazing campaign schools can have a Civvies Days and donate money collected. Corporates can join in by making cash donations. The public is encouraged to attend a motivational talk by Dietz on 13 February at the Lynwood Club at 5:30pm for 6pm. Tickets R100. Limited seats available and pre-bookings through Randelhoff at 082 466 8577.

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