Chad Ho

Open Water World Champion 

Educated at Westville Boys' High School, home of coach Graham Hill and Olympic star Chad le Clos, he is considered one of the fastest professional open water swimmers in the world, having won the overall series title at the 2010 FINA World Cup. He is also currently a five-time titleholder for the Midmar Mile. In 2015 Chad won a world championship title when he took gold  in the Open Water 5km at the FINA World Chapionships held in Kazan.

Chad also competes in surf lifesaving, winning the surf swim at the 2015 SA surf lifesaving championships.

22 July 2009

Chad Ho made history at the 13th FINA World Championships in Rome on Tuesday, becoming the first South African to win a medal in the five-kilometre open water swim, taking bronze.

After South Africa's fruitless pursuit of medals at the Beijing Olympics, Ho's medal so early in the next major international swimming event would have come as a major boost, and relief, to the SA team.

The 19-year-old, who hails from Durban, challenged favourite Thomas Lurz of Germany from the start, but when the break came, only Greek Spyridon Gianniotis was able to hold on as the two challenged for gold. Lurz eventually edged in by just 0.3 seconds to win in 56 minutes 26.9 seconds.

Ho was outstanding, finishing just 15 seconds off the pace and leading home the challengers by 2.4 seconds.

"I felt good," Ho said after the race. "The pace was not too fast and not too slow. I kept my own pace. Around the last turn everyone swung wide and I kept to myself and I took a different line."

The growing stature of the world's largest open water swimming event, South Africa's Halfway Telkom Midmar Mile, was clear to see in the day's results. In the case of Ho, he won the boys under-14 years event in the Midmar in 2004, then followed that up with a seventh among the Midmar seniors in 2005, a third in 2006, second in 2008, and again third this year.

Chad Ho with Keri-Anne Payne

Marathon swimmer

by Ian Macleod

Sports pundits might sooner pick Chad Ho as a rugby flanker than a swimmer. Thick-set, of average height, he lacks the prototypical torpedo shape of the aquatic racer. But Ho is no ordinary swimmer. Preferring 10km ordeals in open ocean to dashes across the pool, his game is to swimming what the Comrades is to running.

“In primary school my mom insisted I did everything,” recalls Ho, but it was only at Westville Boys’ High that he specialised in swimming. He was good in the pool, but quickly realised he had magic over the long haul.

Ho completed his first open water race at age six, and took on the Midmar Mile the next year. “From there I was hooked,” he says.

In 2004 he won the under-14 section at Midmar, and in 2005 the teenager powered to seventh in the men’s event.

He was happy to race in the middle of the field and kick late, but competitors became wary of the late-charging Ho. To avoid blocking and other roughhousing in the pack, Ho learnt to lead from the gun, watching his wake for attacks.

The new strategy and an unchanged work ethic took Ho to the Beijing Olympics in 2008, where he earned an admirable ninth place in the 10km event. At 18, he was the youngest in the field, too.

In 2009 Ho won bronze at the 5km World Championships, and announced himself as a world- beater the next year, winning the gruelling Fina Marathon Swimming World Cup Series.

Now nearing the end of a four-year plan, swimming some five hours a day, gymming once a day, and winning the past three Midmar Miles, Ho has his sights locked on the London Games. “I’m expecting a great swim,” he says. “I’ve beaten the best before, and I can do it again.”

Midmar 2014 - Chad Ho and Troy Prinsloo

Chad Ho (bottom) and Troy Prinsloo went stroke-for-stroke in an epic Midmar Mile.

Chad Ho became South Africa’s first ever gold medalist in the men’s 5km open water event with his victory at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia.