Maarten van der Weijden

Maarten van der Weijden

Olympic champion open water swimming

About Maarten van der Weijden

In 2001 Maarten van der Weijden was diagnosed with Acute Lymphatic Leukemia. After Maarten recovered from this disease, he focused on his passion again: swimming in open water. Maarten worked hard for years to achieve his goal and at the 2008 Olympics it paid off with a gold medal!

"Accept bad luck, live your life!"

Why Maarten van der Weijden Book as a speaker ?

Maarten van der Weijden is a frequently asked speaker and talks openly and passionately about his career. Topics such as perseverance, ambition, dealing with setbacks, innovation, and successful collaboration are extensively discussed. Partly due to the career Maarten has had at Unilever as a financial manager, he also knows how to make an excellent link between top sports and business.

Everyone word was so inspiring!

Maarten took us to an eventful part of his life during his extremely enthusiastic presentation. His personal story is a testament of dedication, perseverance and of victory. How dreams can be realized!



Maarten van der Weijden was a talented swimmer in his younger years. At the age of 19 he already managed to qualify for the World Championships Open Water Swimming in Hawaii. He finished on a very admirable ninth place. A beautiful swimming career seemed to be in the future for Maarten. However, an illness did not make this possible. A few months after Maarten experienced a successful World Championship, in 2001 the doctors concluded that he suffered from Acute Lymphatic Leukemia. In the hospital it was estimated that the chance of recovery was very doubtful. Because of the diagnoses Maarten had to put a stop on his top sport ambitions. He imagined he would never compete on a professional level again. After treatment and during recovery, Maarten  started swimming again, with the reason to speed up the rehabilitation. Soon he got so fanatic that the rehabilitation was turned into serious training. Less than three years after the diagnoses, he swam his first professional competition. After his accomplishments at National Championships, European Championships and World Championships he qualified for the Olympic Games in Beijing. During the World Championships Maarten won a gold medal on the 25 km open water swimming. After that, Maarten put everything aside to focus on the Olympic Games in 2008. To optimally prepare himself, he spent 15 hours a day for eight months in an oxygen tent and regularly walked around with goggles. It resulted in a Gold Medal in Beijing at the 10 km Open Water swim. An unique achievement. In December 2008 Maarten was elected 'Sportsman of the Year' after which he immediately decided to end his career as an active swimmer and to focus on his social career where he is a volunteer for the KWF Cancer Society. Maarten started working as a financial manager at Unilever where he worked until July 2015. He gives many lectures and knows how to make the perfect link between top sport and business. In the summer of 2014 and in May 2015, he was part of the theatre program 'Sportmonologen' in which he told his personal story in fifteen minutes. In the theatre season 2016/2017 Maarten was on stage again, this time with his own theatre tour 'Better'. On 18 August 2018 Maarten began working on his ultimate goal, the 11-city tour swimming. After no less than 163 km Maarten had to stop because of physical reasons but was welcomed as a hero in the Netherlands. With this event he raised more than 5 million euros for the KWF.

An impression of this speaker


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