Tarquin Dennis, older brother of missing swimmer Tristan Dennis, bravely decided to swim in today’s 2015 aQuellé Midmar Mile to finish the event for his brother.
The legendary Midmar Mile in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, kicked off to a good start yesterday but turned to heartbreak later in the day when Tristan did not finish his race. His friends, who had begun the swim with him, alerted officials after he had not joined them an hour after completing the race.
Tristan’s brother immediately decided to race for him today, joined by those friends Craig Swinburne and Shane Beattie who completed event 3 yesterday, and Grant Clayton.
The Midmar Mile organisers supported his decision and announced that “to ensure that the family are comfortable with Tarquin’s decision, members of the South African Navy will swim with them monitored by members of Durban Surf Lifesaving Club on boards.”
Tarquin said “I am doing this because he is my brother. If he was in a fight I would have his back. Waiting for next year is not good enough I need to have his back now.
“The water may have got the better of him [yesterday] but it will not get the better of me [today].”
30-year-old Tristan hails from Durban. He was swimming in the company relay race and entered the water at 11:22:35. There was no record of him exiting the water at any place along the race.
Within minutes of the organisers being notified by his concerned friends, the missing person’s protocols were implemented, resulting in a thorough search of all the medical facilities at the event, as well as double-checking that he was not taken from the water by any of the lifesavers on the water.
This year was the first time where there was a unique tag system that could log all the swimmers as they leave the water at the finish line, or when they are taken from the water by the safety staff. None of the searches proved successful, and the search was moved to the water.
Tristan’s family were also notified and they rushed through to Midmar to be close to the search. Due to inclement weather and reduced visibility the SAPS Search and Rescue unit, under the command of Lt. Jack Haskins, had to finally call off the search last night before continuing this morning.
As of an hour ago, the Midmar Mile Facebook page reported there was still no news on locating Tristan.
One competitor noted in a message to the FB page that “whilst the event as a whole is very well organised, some of the lifesavers need to take their jobs a little more seriously…During my swim on Saturday (event 4) one of the lifeguards on the far left after the second bouy was lying tummy down on his paddle ski, arms folded with his chin resting on his hands staring at the shore!! Total opposite direction to the swimmers! My friend said he saw a similar thing during his swim with a lifeguard lying on his back staring at the shore. And that was just after Tristan had gone missing! They should have been on high alert as a result, especially given that the wind had picked up considerably. How are they helping keep swimmers safe by staring at the shore? Being a lifeguard is a critical service to this race. Whilst the majority of the lifeguards did a great job, some certainly need to take their’s a lot more seriously…”
According to a commentator on social media, there have only ever been two previous fatalities at Midmar in its 42-year history.