Former Olympic champion and open water swimmer Maarten van der Weijden will make a second attempt to swim the complete route of the Elfstedentocht (the Eleven Cities Skating tour in Friesland).
Translation by Thomas Ansell
The swim will be sponsored in the same way as last time, with all money going towards cancer research. The swim will begin on the 21st of June – the longest day of the year – and hopefully end on the 24th of June.
Van Der Weijden’s first attempt to swim the 200-kilometre-long route through the Elevent Cities last August ran aground in Burdaard after swimming non-stop for 163 kilometers and having been in the water for 55 hours at that time. Van Der Weijden began suffering from a salt imbalance at that pont and was encouraged by a doctor and his support team to leave the water.
The Leeuwarder Courant reports that he raised more than 5 million euros for cancer research during his first attempt. “I was able to finance twelve cancer studies, but as long as tens of thousands of people are dying of cancer each year, research is still desperately needed.” The 2008 Olympian admits that medical science is not his field of expertise, but knows that “the best help I can give is by swimming.”
Swimming along with Van Der Weijden
It was originally the intention that members of the general public could swim along with Van der Weijden for a while during the tour last year, but the initiative was cancelled due to poor water quality: the health of other swimmers could not be guaranteed. Van der Weijden says, “We are doing everything we can to prevent this from happening this year.”
The 2018 attempt took place in mid-August of last year, and Van Eer Weijden and his team have decided to move the swimming marathon to the longest days of the year due to shorter nights and slightly colder water. The latter aspect is hoped to keep bacteria at bay for Van Der Weijden himself and anyone who may want to join him in the water. Sign ups to join the swim will begin at 11stedenzwemtocht.nl in the coming weeks.