Courtesy of Richard Broer.

Marathon swimmer Walter Poenisch will be honored as a Pioneer Open Water Swimmer and Olympic 10K Marathon Swim gold medalist Maarten van der Weijden will be inducted as an Honor Swimmer during the Honoree Induction Weekend on August 24th – 27th in Fort Lauderdale, Florida at the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Poenisch’s legacy included a 90.75-mile (146 km) in the Atlantic Ocean in 1972, a 122.5-mile (197.1 km) swim from the Florida Keys to the tip of the Florida peninsula in 1976, and a 128.8-mile (207.8 km) swim across the Straits of Florida from Cuba to Florida at the age of 68. His Swim for Peace was an early example of Speedo diplomacy when it was completed in 1978.

While Poenisch picked up the sport in his latter years, van der Weijden was a protege and medical marvel who retired soon after his 2008 Beijing Olympic victory, the first in history by a leukemia survivor.

But the water called the Dutch gold medalist back.

Van der Weijden recently completed a 24-hour swim where he attempted to break the existing 24-hour record of 101.9 km. He had two fellow Dutch gold medalists helping him as pace swimmers.

Richard Broer described the charity attempt, “The first 18 hours of the swim went very well. He was 20 or more minutes ahead of [his goal] time. He swam 1:22 – 1:25 per 100m in the 25m pool.

At the 12-hour mark he was well underway with 52,000 meters. In the lane next to him, he was paced by several swimmers. Marcel Schouten swam at least six hours with him, setting the pace as support swimmer.

After some 18-19 hours, he had his dip. This eventually culminated after sanitary stop outside of the water for a few minutes. The leaving the swimming position by standing up outside of the water may have not been such a good idea, he told the media afterwards.

He had difficulty getting his rhythm when he got back in. Minutes after re-entering the water he hit the lane lines with his thumb and cut himself adding to his difficulties. His speed dropped to 1:35 per 100 meters. In a television interview, he also stated that the hours in chlorine made swimming difficult during the last hours. Ferry Weertman and Naomi Kromowidjojo swam with him for the final part.

The final 24-hour result was just under the 100 km mark or 99,450 meters.

It was a formidable swim. He swam specifically to draw attention for cancer research. He accumulated more than €10,000 of funds for cancer research as result of the record attempt.

Van der Weijden was coached for this swim by Marcel Wouda and Marcel van der Togt who are both former Netherlands national open water swimming coaches.”


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