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Maarten van der Weijden

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Maarten van der Weijden
Personal information
Full nameMaarten van der Weijden
Nationality Netherlands
Born (1981-03-31) 31 March 1981 (age 43)
Alkmaar, Netherlands
Height2.02 m (6 ft 8 in)
Weight93 kg (205 lb)
StrokesOpen Water
ClubNationaal Zweminstituut Eindhoven
Medal record
Men's open water
Representing the  Netherlands
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 2008 Beijing 10 km open water
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 2008 Seville 25 km open water
Bronze medal – third place 2008 Seville 5 km open water
European Championships
Silver medal – second place 2006 Budapest 10 km open water

Maarten van der Weijden (born 31 March 1981) is a Dutch long distance and marathon swimmer born in Alkmaar.[1] In 2019 Van der Weijden swam the Elfstedentocht for charity. He raised more than 6.1 million.

Swimming career[edit]

Van der Weijden was known as a promising swimming talent in his youth, becoming Dutch national champion at the 1500 m freestyle (1998 (short course and long course), 1999 (lc) and 2000 (lc)), 400 m freestyle (1999 (sc+lc) and 2000 (lc)) and 5 km open water (2000). He also participated at the 1999 European Junior Championships and the 2000 Open Water World Championships.[2] In 2001, he was confronted with leukemia and his career was likely to be over. After surviving cancer, he made his comeback in 2003.[2] He qualified for the Open Water World Championships in Barcelona and won another three Dutch titles; 800 m freestyle (sc+lc) and 1500 m freestyle (lc). He became seventh over 10 and 25 kilometres at the 2004 World Open Water Championships and added a Dutch title at the 800 m freestyle (lc) and 25 km open water.[2]

Later in 2004, he swam across the IJsselmeer in 4:20.58 hours, breaking the former record by almost 15 minutes to collect €50,000, which he donated to cancer research.[2] In 2005, he won the Dutch title over 400 m freestyle (sc) for the second time in his career. He finished in fifth position at the World Open Water Championships over 10 km and sixth over 25 km. He also won three World Cup meetings in Ismaila, Al Fujeirah and Dubai. In 2006 he won a silver medal at the 2006 European Aquatics Championships over 10 km.[2]

Van der Weijden had his own website named "Maarten van der Weijden zwemt tegen kanker" (Maarten van der Weijden swims against cancer) where he informed his fans about his life and his career.[2] He also collected more money for cancer research. He won another World Cup race in Rosario, Argentina in January 2007. At the end of the World Cup calendar he finished in second position overall and during the 2007 World Championships over 10 km he finished seventh.[2]

His aim was to become World Champion and he fulfilled this aim when he won the 25 km at the 2008 World Championships in Seville.[2] He also won a bronze medal at the 5 km there and became fourth at the 10 km. This result qualified him for the 10 km open water marathon race at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.[2] There he won the gold medal on 21 August, narrowly edging out David Davies of Great Britain.[3]

He announced the end of his professional swimming career during his acceptance speech as Dutch Sportsman of the year in 2008.[4]

On 22–23 May 2017, in Amsterdam, Van der Weijden attempted to break the world record for 24 hours swimming. He finished the nonstop swimming marathon, but he did not succeed in breaking the world record of 102 kilometers. He completed 99.5 kilometers in 24 hours. With this achievement he collected €8,500 for the benefit of cancer research. In March 2018 he tried to break the world record again: he succeeded by swimming 102.8 kilometers in 24 hours.


In August 2018, Van der Weijden started an attempt to swim the entire track of the Elfstedentocht, a famous 200 km outdoor ice skating race in the north of the Netherlands.[5] The purpose of this event was to raise funds for cancer research.[6] Sponsors were invited to swim along with him for portions of the distance. The day before the event, the organizers and health experts concluded that due to E. coli the water quality was too poor for the sponsors to swim; Van der Weijden decided to make his attempt, without the sponsors swimming along.[7] He scheduled this attempt to take three days, while only taking short naps - but taking slightly longer (three hour) breaks was necessary to continue. The attempt was live streamed by the national broadcaster NOS on their website and closely followed in national news.[8] Eventually, with less than 10 km left to Dokkum, he had to cut his attempt short due to illness sustained in the water. At that moment, he already had swum a distance of 163 km in 55 hours time raising over €4,3 million for cancer charities. By October the total had reached €5 million.

On 27 March 2019 Van der Weijden announced that on 21 June 2019 he would start a second attempt to swim the whole eleven-city tour. His second attempt turned out to be successful. Van der Weijden arrived after 74 hours and 4 minutes at the finish in Leeuwarden on 24 June 2019. By the end of his swim, he had raised €3,910,763.11 for cancer charities. By the next day, 25 June, it was announced that €5.1 million had come in. On 28 June the total had reached over €6.1 million.

In June 2023 he was the second person to do the "Elfsteden" track as a triathlon. First swimming the total 200 km, followed by 200 km cycling and finally the 200 km walking, again raising money for cancer research.[9]

Political career[edit]

In the 2017 Dutch general election, Van der Weijden was a lijstduwer for the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy.[10]

Electoral history[edit]

Electoral history of Maarten van der Weijden
Year Body Party Pos. Votes Result Ref.
Party seats Individual
2017 House of Representatives People's Party for Freedom and Democracy 80[a] 2,217 33 Lost [11]
2021 House of Representatives People's Party for Freedom and Democracy 80[a] 4,116 34 Lost [12]
2023 House of Representatives People's Party for Freedom and Democracy 80[a] 3,657 24 Lost [13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Van der Weijden participated as lijstduwer.


  1. ^ "Athlete - the official website of the BEIJING 2008 Olympic Games". Archived from the original on 26 August 2008. Retrieved 21 August 2008., beijing2008.cn
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Maarten van der Weijden biography, maartenvanderweijden.com, ret: Aug 21, 2008
  3. ^ "Athlete - the official website of the BEIJING 2008 Olympic Games". Archived from the original on 26 August 2008. Retrieved 21 August 2008., beijing2008.cn, ret: August 21, 2008
  4. ^ "De NOC*NSF Sport & Sportnieuws Site". Archived from the original on 7 February 2009. Retrieved 7 April 2009.
  5. ^ Lamme, Zander (18 August 2018). "Van der Weijden begint aan zwemtocht van 63 uur". www.telegraaf.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  6. ^ "Al 731.000 euro opgehaald voor kankeronderzoek Maarten van der Weijden". Omrop Fryslân (in Dutch). 13 August 2018. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  7. ^ "Organisatie Elfstedentocht Van der Weijden raadt sponsorzwemmers af mee te doen" (in Dutch). Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  8. ^ "Van der Weijden komt onder enorme belangstelling door in Harlingen" (in Dutch). Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  9. ^ https://www.mvdwfoundation.nl/
  10. ^ "VVD-lijstduwer Van der Weijden gelooft in stimuleren en zelf doen". NOS (in Dutch). Nederlandse Omroep Stichting. 25 February 2017. Retrieved 28 April 2017.
  11. ^ "Uitslag Tweede Kamerverkiezing 2017 (getekend exemplaar)" [Results House of Representatives 2017 (signed example)] (PDF). Dutch Electoral Council (in Dutch). 21 March 2017. pp. 22–23. Retrieved 21 December 2023.
  12. ^ "Proces-verbaal verkiezingsuitslag Tweede Kamer 2021" [Report of the election results House of Representatives 2021] (PDF). Dutch Electoral Council (in Dutch). 29 March 2021. pp. 16–17. Retrieved 21 December 2023.
  13. ^ "Proces-verbaal van de uitslag van de verkiezing van de Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal 2023 d.d. 4 december 2023" [Report of the results of the election of the House of Representatives on 4 December 2023] (PDF). Dutch Electoral Council (in Dutch). 4 December 2023. pp. 17–18. Retrieved 21 December 2023.

External links[edit]

Preceded by Dutch Sportsman of the Year
Succeeded by
Preceded by World's Open Water Swimmer of the Year
Succeeded by