From a young age, Maarten van der Weijden from the Netherlands was known as a promising swimming talent. However, before his career could begin he faced a challenge that could have ended it all. At only 19 years old Maarten was diagnosed with cancer. The doctor’s prognoses wasn’t promising and they said there was a very small chance the young man would survive the leukemia. But Maarten proved them wrong. Not only did the resilient swimmer beat cancer, he made a rapid comeback, swimming only 2 years after the diagnosis. To everyone’s surprise, the cancer-survivor managed to take his career even further by becoming a gold medalist at the Olympic Games in 2008 Beijing.


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Most athletes are known for pushing themselves to the limits and Maarten is no exception. Recently the swimmer attempted to swim the entire 200 kilometers (120 mi) long track of the Elfstedentocht in the Netherlands. The sole reason behind the event was to raise funds for cancer research, a cause close to Maarten’s heart.

The swim was scheduled to take 3 days, including very short naps to rest. However, as Maarten swam further he fell ill and the water was deemed too polluted for him to continue. He had managed to swim a distance of 163 kilometers in 55 hours. And despite not being able to reach his 200-kilometer goal, the fundraising campaign was a huge success. The swimmer raised a stunning sum of more than $4 million!Scroll below to see how he made it all happen!

More info: 11stedenzwemtocht.nl | twitter.com

From a young age, Maarten van der Weijden from the Netherlands was known as a promising swimming talent

Image credits: like2swimrotterdam.nl

However, before his career could begin he faced a challenge that could have ended it all

Image credits: MvdWFoundation

At only 19 years old Maarten was diagnosed with cancer

Image credits: beter.nu

But the resilient swimmer beat cancer and 7 years later he became a gold medalist at the Olympic Games in 2008 Beijing

Most athletes are known for pushing themselves to the limits and Maarten is no exception

Image credits: MvdWFoundation

Recently the swimmer attempted to swim the entire 200 kilometers (120 mi) long track of the Elfstedentocht in the Netherlands

Image credits: MvdWFoundation

The sole reason behind the event was to raise funds for cancer research, a cause close to Maarten’s heart

Image credits: MvdWFoundation

The swim was scheduled to take 3 days, including very short naps to rest

Image credits: Evelien de Bruijn

However, as Maarten swam further he fell ill and the water was deemed too polluted for him to continue

Image credits: MvdWFoundation

He had managed to swim a distance of 163 kilometers in 55 hours

Image credits: hartvannederland.nl

Here’s how his hands and feet looked like after 55 hours in the water

Image credits: hartvannederland.nl

Image credits: hartvannederland.nl

The fundraising campaign was a huge success. The swimmer raised a stunning sum of more than $4 million!

Image credits: dailynews.openwaterswimming.com

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