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The News
Thursday 21 of January 2021

Dutch Olympian churns through canals to fund cancer research


FILE - In this file photo dated  Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008, Maarten van der Weijden, of the Netherlands, reacts after winning the men's swimming marathon at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, after beating leukemia.  In a fundraising feat that has captured the imagination of the nation, Maarten van der Weijden is about three-quarters of the way through the 200-kilometer (124-mile) swim by Monday Aug. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, FILE),FILE - In this file photo dated  Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008, Maarten van der Weijden, of the Netherlands, reacts after winning the men's swimming marathon at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, after beating leukemia.  In a fundraising feat that has captured the imagination of the nation, Maarten van der Weijden is about three-quarters of the way through the 200-kilometer (124-mile) swim by Monday Aug. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, FILE)
FILE - In this file photo dated Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008, Maarten van der Weijden, of the Netherlands, reacts after winning the men's swimming marathon at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, after beating leukemia. In a fundraising feat that has captured the imagination of the nation, Maarten van der Weijden is about three-quarters of the way through the 200-kilometer (124-mile) swim by Monday Aug. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, FILE),FILE - In this file photo dated Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008, Maarten van der Weijden, of the Netherlands, reacts after winning the men's swimming marathon at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, after beating leukemia. In a fundraising feat that has captured the imagination of the nation, Maarten van der Weijden is about three-quarters of the way through the 200-kilometer (124-mile) swim by Monday Aug. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, FILE)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — In a fundraising feat that has captured the imagination of his nation, a Dutch Olympian is approaching the end of a marathon swim along the route of an iconic speed skating race.

Maarten van der Weijden, who beat leukemia and went on to win a gold medal in the 10-kilometer open water swim at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, was about three-quarters of the way through the 200-kilometer (124-mile) swim by noon Monday.

He is swimming along canals and rivers linking 11 towns in the northern province of Friesland that are used for a speed skating race in the years when cold winters freeze the entire route.

Crowds along the waterways are cheering him on. Supporters unable to get to Friesland can follow him on a live stream by national broadcaster NOS.