Open water colours for Branden Willows


Branden Williams has been going to the Midmar Mile swim every year since 2012, and when he went earlier this year he completed his 25th official crossing of the dam.

That’s a number most swimmers who see the famous KwaZulu-Natal marathon swim as an ultimate challenge would only dream of – in their lifetimes – yet Branden has done that by the age of 17.

“I first swam the Midmar with my dad (Jeppe old boy Anthony Willows) in 2012 and we have been going as a family every year since then,” he explained.

It was a single crossing that first year, but from 2013 to 2016 he swam twice each time and last year and this he did the “eight miles”, swimming in aid of the children’s cancer charity, CHOC.

“I joined an online charity collection organisation and raised R14 000 last year and R10 000 this year,” he said. His average time for the eight swims was just over 23 minutes this year and he came 4th overall among the group that swam the eight, and 3rd in his age group.

Branden believes he has always been an open water swimmer at heart, he just didn’t know it at first. “I swam at primary school and when I won a silver medal in the 200m freestyle at a CGA gala at the age of eight, I realised the longer distances were for me. So I began training for the 400m, and later the 800, and 1500m and was doing well before we went to Midmar that year and the open water bug bit me.”

He will be going to Port Elizabeth this weekend to swim in the SA Open Water National Championships, where he will be doing the 3 and 5km races. This is the 3rd time he has been awarded Gauteng colours for the sport.

And, as if he wasn’t spending enough time training, he also does lifesaving as a sport and will be going to those national championships for the fifth time this year.

In between, he swims for Jeppe in interschool galas and, although he finds the distances a bit short for him, he is happy that he usually places in his races and earns a few points for the team as it continues to improve in competitions.

And, for cross-training, he runs in the cross-country team in the winter months.

A busy young man, loving what he is doing, for his school, for charity, to save lives, and to chase personal best times on the open water. Very impressive.