Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Lasting Images from Beijing - Part 9

At the Beijing Olympics, one of the most engaging and interesting personalities will be open water swimmer Maarten van der Weijden of the Netherlands. Maarten just posted his story at [MAARTEN VAN DER WEIJDEN].

At 6'-8", Maarten is a giant of a man for more than his open water exploits (shown with his Netherlands identification - NED - written on his head to the left).

Maarten's incredible story is well-known in the open water community. In 2001, he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphatic Leukaemia and had to undergo chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant at the age of 20.

"In Lance Armstrong's book, he talks about fighting the cancer and being desperate to get back on his bike, but I didn't feel like that. I was lying in my hospital bed feeling at peace with which ever way it would go. I didn't think I would ever swim again. After my treatment, I lost [28.6 pounds], I couldn't sit, stand or anything. Two weeks after getting out of hospital my mother persuaded me to go swimming again, to enjoy the feeling of being in the water and start to get back into some sort of shape again. I hadn't even thought about a come back at that stage. I would look at my body in the mirror all the time and wonder if I was getting better or whether the cancer would come back, but in the pool I didn't feel any fear that the cancer would come back. I felt relaxed and happy in the water."

An article about Maarten's most recent 25K world championship swim can be found at [SWIMMING WORLD MAGAZINE].

Maarten looks forward to competing in Beijing. "The Olympics will be great. I am looking forward to it."

Copyright © 2008 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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