Dutch man's 11 cities swim marathon raises €4 million
Maarten van der Weijden successfully swam the route of the Elfstedentocht on his second attempt. The 38-year-old man finished in Leeuwarden at 7:30 p.m. on Monday after swimming 195 kilometers, and raising nearly 4 million euros in the process, NU.nl reports.
With his swim marathon, Van der Weijden raised money for cancer research. Upon his arrival in Leeuwarden, the counter stood at 3,910,763 million euros.
The Elfstedentocht, or Eleven Cities Tour, is a long-distance tour skating event through Friesland which starts and ends at Leeuwarden and passes eleven historical cities in the province. It is held at most once a year, and only if natural ice along the entire route is thick enough to skate on safely. Van der Weijden decided to swim it, instead of skating it.
After finishing in Leeuwarden, Van der Wijden was welcomed by Renier Paping, winner of the notorious Elfstedentocht of 1963. In that year only 69 of the 10 thousand participants finished the race due to extremely low temperatures, snow and strong winds. "I have no words for this", Paping said to the swimmer. Van der Weijden replied: "How special that you are here." He was then taken to hospital for a medical examination.
Van der Weijden, an Olympic champion, was cheered on by tens of thousands of people along his route. A total of 1.35 million people tuned in to M on Monday evening to watch him cross the finish line.
The swimmer passed Bidaard's marina - where he had to give up his first attempt last year after 163 kilometers due to health complaints - at around 7:00 a.m. on Monday. There his family was waiting for him with a special stamp at his statue. In Dokkum many school children were given the day off to encourage the swimmer. As he departed from the city, four F-16 fighter jets flew over as a tribute.
Congratulations streamed in from all across the Netherlands, including from King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima and Prime Minister Mark Rutte. "With excitement and wonder we followed the Eleven Cities Swim Tour of Maarten van der Weijden. A journey of 195 kilometers through the Frisian waters for charity: what a great achievement. Congratulations!" the Royals said in a statement.
"He succeeded! What an unbelievable achievement by Maarten van der Weijden", Rutte said on Twitter. "A historic and admirable achievement, all for charity. The whole of the Netherlands is proud!"
— MvdW Foundation (@mvdwfoundation) June 24, 2019
Het is gelukt! Wat een ongelooflijke prestatie van Maarten van der Weijden, die na 195 kilometer zijn #11StedenZwemtocht in Leeuwarden heeft volbracht. Een historische en bewonderenswaardige prestatie, allemaal voor het goede doel. Heel Nederland is trots! 👏 pic.twitter.com/cKcua2XiNN
— Mark Rutte (@MinPres) June 24, 2019
Held Maarten heeft het gehaald, wat een bovenmenselijke prestatie! Het megabedrag van 3.910.763,11 euro is opgehaald voor 11 onderzoeken naar kanker, waarvan 8 van KWF. Over de onderzoeken: https://t.co/4e3O0HZeEK. MAARTEN BEDANKT!#11stedenzwemtocht #dankbaar #dieprespect pic.twitter.com/VO9kB9xn3v
— KWFKankerbestrijding (@kwf_nl) June 24, 2019
Maarten van der Weijden, what an incredible achievement. What a hero. The 11 Cities Tour swim 200 km. For the fight against cancer! Awesome 👍🏻 pic.twitter.com/mw0TGfpAJC
— Teunis G.J. Ouwehand (@tgjouwehand) June 24, 2019
Conclusie: als je Maarten van der Weijden drie dagen in het water laat weken krijg je Lange Frans. pic.twitter.com/sGXkhD0AgJ
— Stefan Keerssemeeckers (@Stiif) June 24, 2019
.@mvdweijden Maarten van der Weijden, a Dutch long distance and marathon swimmer, just swam 121 miles doing the 11 cities tour in Friesland (NL), and has raised over 3 million so far for Cancer Research charities!
— ALPHA PRO (@DTMsport) June 24, 2019
History happened just now. Maarten van der Weijden, Olympic champion, swam the 200 km of the legendary ‘Eleven Cities’ in the Netherlands. He started Friday and finished now, Monday evening, raising millions for cancer research. Respect 👏https://t.co/A89tZ9Ey4S pic.twitter.com/xCwGuBMM73
— Hans (@hans444) June 24, 2019