Femke Heemskerk To Retire After The ISL Season With Olympic, World And European Titles

HEEMSKERK Femke NED Nederland Celebrate 100m Freestyle Women Final Swimming Budapest - Hungary 22/5/2021 Duna Arena XXXV LEN European Aquatic Championships Photo Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto
Femke Heemskerk: Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Femke Heemskerk will retire after the conclusion of the International Swimming League season following a career that has encompassed Olympic, world and European titles.

The 34-year-old competed at four Olympics, winning gold on her Games debut at Beijing 2008 as part of the Netherlands 4×100 freestyle relay team.

She was a member of the quartet who won silver four years later at London 2012 and on top of her Olympic medals, Heemskerk will leave the pool with eight world – two of them gold – and 18 European medals, including three trips to the top of the podium.

There were also seven world short-course titles among a haul of 18 and 14 European 25m medals of which five were gold.

Heemskerk’s astonishing longevity was underlined this year when she won her first individual international long-course title at the age of 33 with victory over 100m freestyle in Budapest.

At the Tokyo Olympics in July, Heemskerk reached the 100 free final where she placed sixth.

Now she has announced she will retire following the ISL in which she will compete for Energy Standard at the Pieter van den Hoogenband Swimming Stadium in Eindhoven, Netherlands, with the playoffs starting next month.

Should Energy qualify for the final as expected, she will conclude her fine career on 7/8 January with the host city yet to be announced.

Heemskerk posted to social media:

Among the many messages sent by current and former swimmers were ones from Sarah Sjostrom, Chad Le Clos and Pieter van den Hoogenband, a legend of the pool with three Olympic titles.

Federica Pellegrini indicated that she too will be in Eindhoven for the Aqua Centurions, saying: “Together until the last stroke,” with the 2004 Olympic champion’s career also drawing to a close.

Freya Anderson said: “Thank you for being such an inspiration ❤️ congrats beaut❤️” echoing words she spoke to Swimming World before Tokyo.

The Briton said in July:

“To see Femke winning her first individual gold at 33 sort of takes the pressure off you I guess. You don’t have to be good at this age.

“Because I’ve been junior swimming and even at the worlds when I was 16 I’ve always had that pressure on me – oh you have to be good now.

“Seeing Ranomi  (Kromowdijojo, 30) still going, seeing Federica (Pellegrini, 32) still going and being successful sort of makes you relax a bit and think maybe your time will be a bit later on.”

A Career Spent Solely At The Top Table

Heemskerk made her global debut at in 2005 at the World Championships in Montreal, Canada, where she swam the heats of the 4×100 and 4×200 free.

Between 2008 and 2012, Heemskerk was a member of the so-called ‘Golden Girls’ sprint relay with Ranomi Kromowidjojo, Inge Dekker and Marleen Veldhuis.

For four years, the quartet remained unbeaten and during that period they became Olympic, world and European champions – in both short and long cours – and in 2008 they swam a world record that stood for six years.

She will head for the next chapter of her life having competed in four Olympics, eight long-course and four short-course World Championships, seven European Championships in the 50m pool and 10 short-course.