2019 was a great year for swimming and triathlon with countless moments that have motivated and inspired us greatly. We thought it would the perfect moment to look back on this past year and pick our five best and most memorable moments of swimming in 2019.
There have been such great swims and achievements in the past 12 months, so many inspiring moments to reflect on. We want to make our five moments representative of swimming as a whole, not just one championship or the biggest stars in the swimming, even though we did include one such moment. It was really difficult to choose the best of all these beautiful moments.
So sit back with your drink of choice, look back with us upon 2019, reflect upon your own swimming season and start dreaming about your goals for 2020. From everyone here at SwimGym.com, we would like to wish you and yours a swimmingly New Year!
MAARTEN VAN DER WEIJDEN: ELEVEN CITIES ULTRA SWIM
Former Olympic Open Water gold medalist Maarten van der Weijden is not shy when it comes to challenges and swimming for something larger than himself. Being over 6 feet 7 himself that really means something. Maarten has been raising money and awareness for cancer research for many years through swimming. In 2001 he was confronted with leukemia and his career was likely to be over. After surviving cancer he made his comebackand in 2008 won the gold medal in the 10km Open Water race in the Beijing Olympics, making him an instant hero. Both as an athlete, as well as a human being.
In 2018 Maarten tried, but failed, to swim the Elfstedentocht, the iconic eleven city ice skating circuit. The circuit is 195 kilometers long. But this year he was back and swam it in just over 72 hours. He averaged just under 4 kilometers per hour, had thousands of fans cheering him on and millions of people watching him succeed on TV. He raised more than 11 million (!) euros for cancer research in just one year, making him a true legend and a great example to all of us.
Watch Maarten’s iconic swim here
CAELEB DRESSEL: HISTORIC WORLD RECORD 100 BUTTERFLY
The 2019 World Swimming Championships in Gwangju (South Korea) were full of memorable moments. During this pre Olympic championships new stars rose to the occasion, such as 17-year old Regan Smith and 19-year old Kristof Milak who both smashed world records in backstroke and butterfly. But it was American swimming sensation Caeleb Dressel who provided the best moment for us. He swam a world record of 49.50 in the 100m butterfly, breaking the 10 year old world mark of Michael Phelps. It was not just the new record that was impressive, but more so the way he swam his race. His powerful start and his beautiful and elegant butterfly technique made our jaws drop instantly. In addition to this, Dressel set a single meet record winning 8 medals, six of them gold. The elusive 100m butterfly world record, set in the time of super-suits, is now broken and a testament to the advances made in swimming. With all eyes now focused on Tokyo 2020, will Dressel become the new Phelps?
Watch Dressel's record race
RODERICK SEEWELL: IRONMAN AS A DOUBLE AMPUTEE
Roderick Sewell became the first above-the-knee double-amputee to finish at the Ironman world Championships in Kona. The race is a 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and a full marathon. It took Roderick 16 hours, 15 minutes and a bit of change to finish. But finish he did. The swim course he completed in 1 hour and 9 minutes, a very respectable swim for any age grouper. His story is inspiring, against the odds and why it is one of the best moments of the year for us. “Anything is possible” as the Ironman motto tell us. Be inspired by those around you. They have stories and journeys that inspire and conspire to get us up and out and training. Because it all starts with the first step.
SARAH THOMAS: 4 TIME CROSSING OF THE ENGLISH CHANNEL
There can be no denying that swimming the Channel once is a feat in itself. But no one has ever swum it four times consecutively. It is a first and a world record for the American Sarah Thomas. In Sep of this year, Thomas, a breast cancer survivor completed the swim in a little over 54 hours. The Channel is 32 kilometers wide. All-in-all she swam 210 kilometers, 80 more than expected due to strong tides and winds. She did it because she said she didn’t want cancer to define her. It takes incredible mental strength and will power to pull off a swim like this and we salute her as one of the best swims of 2019.
Watch Sarah's incredible finish
SWIMGYM COMPETITION TEAM: MASTER MEET EINDHOVEN
The SwimGym Competition Team gathered in Eindhoven, the mecca of Dutch swimming, with 26 swimmers strong to compete in a Masters swimming competition that proved to be a great success. From first timers to experienced swimmers, the group had it all. Some nervous about the dive from the high starting blocks under the canopy of a world class swimming pool; others focusing on swimming personal bests or getting down to times they hadn’t swum since their youth. The camaraderie was palpable, the more experienced helping and giving advice to the less experienced and everybody cheering each other on. Lots of laughs were shared and fun had by all. What a privilege it is to race and train together as a team. As a SwimGym community, inspiring yourself and others to enjoy swimming to the fullest. This is one of our best swimming moments this year and we are extremely proud of each and everyone who is swimming in our community. Long live swimming!
Watch the SwimGym competition recap