2011 World Relay Champion Van der Meer Retires To Focus On Motherhood And Studies

Maud van der Meer, right: Photo Courtesy: Maria Dobysheva

Four-time world relay medallist Maud van der Meer has announced her retirement from swimming and will now combine motherhood with a career as a sports dietician.

The 28-year-old made the decision after failing to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics at the Rotterdam Qualification Meet in December.

Van der Meer – who won gold with the Netherlands 4×100 free quartet after swimming the heats at the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai – became a mother to son Mason in May 2018.

Now, she says, “I am very much looking forward to my ‘new life’ as a mother and to help other (top) athletes as a dietitian” having started a three-year course in sports dietetics.

Van der Meer posted on social media:

Van der Meer grew up in Uden and moved to Eindhoven in 2008 to be based at the RTC which was later renamed the High Performance Centre.

She became an integral member of the Netherlands’ freestyle relay squads and claimed her first international medal when she won gold at the 2011 worlds in Shanghai.

Van der Meer went 54.70 in the heats before Inge Dekker was drafted into the final to win gold alongside Ranomi Kromowidjojo, Marleen Veldhuis and Femke Heemskerk.

She won silver four years later in Kazan, Russia, going on to replicate that finish in the mixed free relay at the 2017 worlds in Budapest where she also took bronze in the women’s sprint relay.

There was double gold in the 4×50 and 4×100 free at the 2014 World Short-Course Championships as well as European long-course titles in London in 2016 in both the women’s and mixed 4×100 free relay plus silver in the former in 2014.

Van der Meer swam the heats of the 4×1 at the Olympics in Rio in 2016 where the team qualified in fifth for the final for which she was not selected and where they finished fourth.

Speaking to the Royal Dutch Swimming Federation (KNZB), Van der Meer explained that she has not had the same drive since failing to book her spot on the Netherlands team for the Olympics.

She said:

“Theoretically, I still have a very slim chance of qualifying as a relay swimmer or, if necessary, as a reserve for the Games in April or May.

“But I notice that the ultimate motivation to do and not do anything for that has not been there since December.

“Then as a top athlete you have to be honest with yourself and your environment and quitting is the best choice.

“I look back on my elite sports career and everything I have achieved with a very positive feeling.

“I am especially proud of myself that after the birth of Mason I returned to my old level, because it is not easy to combine motherhood with elite sport.

“The fact that I no longer have to do that now also gives me peace of mind. I am very much looking forward to my ‘new life’ as a mother and to help other (top) athletes as a dietitian.”

André Cats, technical director of the KNZB, regrets that Van der Meer is leaving but fully understands her decision, saying:

“I have a lot of appreciation and respect for her commitment and dedication to elite sport.

“It is very clever how, after becoming a mother, she fought herself back.

“It is unfortunate for her that qualifying for Tokyo just did not work, but that does not detract from her beautiful career in competitive swimming. On behalf of the KNZB I wish her all the best in the future!”

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