Friday, June 13, 2008

Lasting Images from Beijing - Part 15

One of the most successful and versatile open water swimmers is making an Olympic comeback after the birth of her daughter.

Edith van Dijk of the Netherlands, who retired after her child's birth, qualified for the women’s Olympic 10K Marathon Swim at the 2008 World Open Water Swimming Championships in Seville, Spain. Edith recalled, “Coming around the last turn buoy, I knew I had to hold off the other Europeans. There was a group of swimmers behind me (Teja Zupan of Slovakia, Alice Franco of Italy, Marianna Lymperta of Greece and Margarita Dominguez of Spain) and I knew I just had to finish in front of them by a touch to qualify for Beijing. I am so happy."

The personable, multi-lingual 35-year-old started her open water career in 1990. Between the 1998 World Swimming Championships in Perth and the 2005 World Swimming Championships in Montreal, Edith was the world's dominant professional marathon swimmer. In addition to the numerous professional race victories throughout Europe, South America and Canada, Edith won two gold medals in the 10K, four gold medals in the 25K, two silver medals each in the 5K and 25K, and a bronze each in the 5K, 10K and 25K races over seven world championship events during that period.

These races were held in every kind of open water swimming environment: from the shores and swells of Waikiki in Hawaii to the flat waters of a Montreal rowing basin. She also won in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Barcelona, in a river flowing through Dubai, and in the ocean along the Japanese coast in Fukuoka.

Edith also swam across the English Channel in 2003 and tried to qualify for the 2004 Olympics in the 800-meter freestyle. In 2005, she was named Swimming World Magazine's Long Distance Swimmer of the Year and the Top Sport Female of the Year in the Netherlands.

As one of the greatest ambassadors of the sport, we look forward to watching Edith in Beijing on August 20th.

Photo by Javier Blazquez showing Edith on the left with her daughter after the 25K race at the 2008 World Open Water Swimming Championships

Copyright © 2008 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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