Maarten van der Weijden_ Sloten. Photo by Lizanne Ganzevles
Experience of Wetsuit Users

Experience of Maarten (Swim of Elfstedentocht)

January 24, 2020

Maarten van der Weijden is a long distance and marathon swimmer from the Netherlands. During his career  he has been the Dutch national champion at the 1500 m, 800, 400 m freestyle , as well as  5 km and 25 km open water. In 2001 he was confronted with leukemia, fortunately he survived and made a fantastic comeback in 2003. After the comeback he reached the highest point in his professional swimmer career – he won the 25 km at the 2008 World Championships and Olympic silver at the 10 km open water marathon race at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. After his comeback Maarten van der Weijden started to swim also for charity with the aim to raise money for cancer research.

“Accept bad luck, live your life and connect!” is the motto of Maarten. I think it’s perfect in it’s simplicity! 

Please tell the readers about yourself and about your carrier as a swimmer.

In 2008 I won Olympic gold in the open water swimming (10km), I retired immediately, but started swimming for charity in 2017. I have my own foundation (Maarten van der Weijden Foundation) and I raised almost 12 million euro in one year for the (future) cancer patient. 

Tell us about your last venture – swimming the entire track of the Elfsedentocht. Why did you swim it?

Why did you choose this particular route? What was the hardest during the swim? In 2001 I got leukemia and fortunately I recovered. A few years ago I realised I was dealing with a ‘survivors guild’ and that I wanted to raise money for cancer research and projects, so more people could have the luck that I had when I was diagnosed cancer. My strenght is swimming long distances and in the Netherlands there’s one ultimate water ‘parcours’: the Elfstedentocht (almost 200km along the province Friesland). It’s an ice-skating tour, but it hasn’t been held any more since 1997 because of the lack of ice. In 2018 I tried to swim the 200km route, but failed because of health reasons and had to stop at 163km. In 2019 I successfully completed the 200km. The hardest during my first attempt was my mindset. I wasn’t halfway yet and I was in so much pain when I realised I had to swim another 120km, not knowing when the finish would be. This feeling of hopelessness made me want to quit. During my second attempt I had some problems with my wetsuit and a lot of scratches that hurt. 

In my website I am sharing the experience of swimmers regarding the wetsuits they use. Please share yours. 

I was wearing a wetsuit designed for me with Duraflex (an ultra flexible and sustainable material) and whaleskin (more info below). I had a zipper in my suit at my bottom, just in case I had to use the toilet. Pros were that the suit kept me warm (my core temperature never dropped beneath 36.3 degrees, despite I was lying in the water for almost 3 days), cons were the scratches that hurt while swimming. I’m having scars from 2018 and 2019 that will never go away. 

Which wetsuit did you use during the swim of the Elfstedentocht? What other accessories did you use?

I was wearing a suit for DeBoerWetsuits, a body with cap beneath it, gloves and boots (Huub).

If you would need a new wetsuit which one would you choose and why?

The suit I was wearing was good for swimming the Elfstedenzwemtocht. I think you have to see per swimming tour which wetsuit fits the best with the conditions you’re dealing with. 

Thanks to Maarten for connecting and sharing his experience. Wish him all the best and great success whit his foundation! 

Related sites

Website of Maarten van der Weijden-

Official website of Deboer –

Deboer wetsuit technologies

My post “Triathlon Wetsuits – Materials and Technologies”

My post “Most expensive wetsuits-triathlon wetsuits

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  1. Hello Ingus,

    I love the interview with  Maarten van der Weijden. It reveals so much about the champion I must say. He has a really positive mindset and I’m sure that accounts for his victories. I enjoy swimming a lot though I don’t swim professionally but I have definitely learnt from this piece. Sometimes, it can be really difficult to find the ideal swimsuit for different conditions Maarten used the DeBoerWetsuits for the Elfstedentocht. Do you think it’ll be perfect for all swimming conditions?

    1. Thank you for the comment!

      The wetsuit of Maarten was custom made specially for him and specially for that swim. I suppose the main thought was to keep him warm during the long hours in the water and in the same time having the flexibility in that way lowering the impact on the amount of physical exhaustion.

      I think you would need to choose a wetsuit which suits your needs primarily.

  2. Hi Ingus, you perform excellently well on your interview of the renowned world champion and swimming Olympics silver medalist, Maarten van der weijden.
    He was very prolific during his career and even towards the twilight of his career.
    I think their is nothing in this world that doesn’t come with its own disadvantages.
    Their is no 100% perfect thing created by man, only the creatures of God are.
    There are various wetsuits around made by different companies which has similar benefits but not all makes one comfortable when in use.
    I could recall a particular wetsuit I was using sometimes ago, it would always live a scar on me anytime I leave the water.
    Your review has thrown more light on the need to select the perfect wetsuit that suite the conditions you deal with.

    1. I am glad you liked the post.

      If you get chaffing from a wetsuit I would recommend three possible courses of action:

      1. Use an anti-chaffing balm or a neck protector –> my post about them.

      2. Work on your swimming technique. It helps if you learn bilateral breathing and improve your sighting skills.

      3. Change your wetsuit. It’s very useful to find a retailer which offers the chance to try the wetsuit in a test swim or return it after you have tried it.

  3. Hello Ingus. Thanks you for sharing this post to help us get a feel of Maarten van der Weijden experience. This looks like most situations in life. I am excited that he was able to conquer both leukemia and he was able to achieve some of his dreams. This is a proof that dtermination and mindset matters a lot. We should always have positive mindset no matter the situation and we shouldn’t let inconveniences stop us. Maarten van der Weijden has a good hear and he is an inspiration to us all.

    Peace out!

    1. Thanks for the comment! Maarten is sensational and swims for a noble cause. If I am not mistaken with the date he tried to brake the Guinness World Record for most swam kilometers during 24 h in a pool on the January 24, 2020.

  4. My friend is a long distance swimmer and he is trying to convince me to follow in his wake. 

    Since wetsuits are standard issue, what should I be looking for in a new wetsuit? 

    What is the best material for a short stocky body type? 

    Do the same materials perform the same on all body types? How do I go about purchasing my first wetsuit and where can I get this done in western Canada?

    Thanks, I hope to learn more about this essential piece of equipment from your website.


    1. Hi Paul!

      Thanks for the comment. It’s good to hear that you are considering to try out long distance swimming.

      There are a lot of triathlon wetsuit brands (as you can check out on my site in the section “Brands”). The wetsuits come in different sizes and no matter what body type or size an appropriate wetsuit can be found.

      As a start I would look around in the internet and check out the different brands. Sometimes one or two brands resonate with you and so it’s already easier to narrow down the the offers. Afterward I would try to find a retailer which offers the wetsuits of these brands. In Western Canada I found two as an example: “Tri It” and “Element Sport“. They offer tri gear as well as wetsuits. I have no doubt that they will offer you a good consultation.

      Nevertheless, if you want to read a guide on how to choose a triathlon wetsuit you can read this one by “Swim Outlet” or check out on YouTube channel “Global Triathlon Network“.

      Wishing you all the best in your long distance swimming journey!

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