Sharon van Rouwendaal

Sharon van Rouwendaal (born 9 September 1993) is a Dutch swimmer and the Olympic gold medalist in the 10 km open water marathon at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Sharon van Rouwendaal
Van Rouwendaal at the 2016 Olympics
Personal information
National team Netherlands
Born (1993-09-09) 9 September 1993
Baarn, Netherlands
Height1.72 m (5 ft 8 in)
Weight64 kg (141 lb)
StrokesFreestyle, open water,
ClubEiffel Swimmers PSV
CoachPhilippe Lucas, Marcel Wouda[1]

She grew up in Soest, and later moved to France with her parents. In 2009, she moved to Eindhoven to train with Jeanet Mulder, after she had qualified for the 2010 European Aquatics Championships she changed coach to Jacco Verhaeren. As of 2014 she is coached by Philippe Lucas in Narbonne and Marcel Wouda in Eindhoven. She is noted for her versatility, and focuses on distance freestyle events. In a country known for its sprinters, she is the only elite distance swimmer.[2] She has won several medals at European and world championships, both in open water and pool events.

Junior career

Van Rouwendaal won four medals in middle- and long-distance freestyle events at the 2008 European Junior Championships in Belgrade, including a gold medal in the 1500 meter in a Dutch senior record (long course). A year later, she won a gold medal at the 2009 European Junior Championships in Prague in the 400 meter freestyle.

Senior career

Van Rouwendaal made her senior debut at the 2008 European Short Course Championships in Rijeka. Two years later, at the 2010 European Short Course Championships in Eindhoven, she made her international breakthrough by winning two silver medals, in the 100 m and 200 m backstroke.[3] She finished in fifth place at the 2010 world short course championships in Dubai in the 200 meter backstroke a few weeks later.

At the 2011 World Aquatics Championships in Shanghai she won the bronze medal in the 200 m backstroke behind Missy Franklin and Belinda Hocking.[4]

2012 Olympics

The 2012 Olympics in London were Van Rouwendaal's first Olympics. She competed individually in the 100 m backstroke and 200 m backstroke but due to a shoulder injury she did not make the finals. In the 200 meter backstroke event she finished 11th in the semifinals. In the 4 × 100 m medley relay she did swim the final, finishing 6th with the Dutch team. Van Rouwendaal (swimming the backstroke lead-off leg) and her teammates Moniek Nijhuis (breaststroke), Inge Dekker (butterfly), and Ranomi Kromowidjojo (freestyle) broke the Dutch record in this event.[5]

Her shoulder injury caused her to miss the 2013 World Aquatics Championships.[6]

2014 European Championships

At the 2014 European Aquatics Championships in Berlin, Van Rouwendaal won the gold medal in the 10 km open water, upsetting reigning Olympic champion Éva Risztov of Hungary by 1.1 seconds.[1] This was her first gold medal in a major international championship. With her teammates Marcel Schouten and Ferry Weertman she won another gold medal in the 5 km team time trial. She also won the silver medal in the 5 km, and another silver in the 400 meter freestyle in the pool behind Britain's Jazmin Carlin. She finished 5th in the 800 m freestyle final and missed the final of the 1500 m freestyle by finishing 9th in the heats. She also competed in the 200 m butterfly but did not qualify for the semifinals.

Van Rouwendaal was voted 2014 European Open water swimmer of the year by European swimming federation LEN.[7]

2014 World Championships (short course)

Later in the year she won her first world title as a member of the 4 × 200 m freestyle relay at the short course world championships in Doha, Qatar. The team (also consisting of Inge Dekker, Femke Heemskerk, and Ranomi Kromowidjojo) broke China's four year old world record by more than 3 seconds with Van Rouwendaal splitting 1:52.73.[8] She also won individual medals in the 400 m and 800 m freestyle.

2015 World Championships

At the 2015 World Aquatics Championships in Kazan, Russia, Van Rouwendaal again competed both in the open water and pool events. In the open water events she won two silver medals. In the individual 10 km she finished 2.4 seconds behind Aurélie Muller of France for second place. By finishing in the top 10, she qualified for the 10 km marathon event at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. In the 5 km team time trial she and her teammates Marcel Schouten and Ferry Weertman finished in tied second place. She also finished 4th in the individual 5 km. In the pool, Van Rouwendaal won the silver medal in the 400 meter freestyle behind defending champion and world record holder Katie Ledecky, who had dominated this event since 2013. In this race she broke the Dutch record with a time of 4:03.02. In the heats of the 800 m freestyle, she also broke her own national record.[9] She broke her record again in the final but finished in 8th place. In the 1500 m freestyle she finished 6th.

2016 European Open Water Championships

At the 10 km event at the European Open Water Championships in Hoorn, the Netherlands, Van Rouwendaal missed a turn near the finish while in leading position. She ended up finishing 4th. Two days later she won a bronze medal in the 5 km event.[10]

2016 Summer Olympics

At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Van Rouwendaal missed the final of the 400 m freestyle, finishing 19th in the heats. She subsequently pulled out of the 800 m freestyle, and later won the gold medal in the 10 km marathon at Fort Copacabana in 1:56:32.1. After 6 km she broke away from the field, and finished 17 seconds ahead of silver medalist Rachele Bruni.[11]

See also


  1. Lord, Craig (13 August 2014). "Sharon Van Rouwendaal Reinvents Herself For Euro 10km Crown; Olympic Champ 2nd". Swimvortex. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  2. "Sharon van Rouwendaal Biography". Swimswam. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  3. The Sports, 22 April 2011.
  4. "Swimming-Franklin win's women's 200m backstroke world title". Reuters. 30 July 2011. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  5. "Sharon Van Rouwendaal". BBC. 13 August 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  6. Van Rouwendaal, Sharon (4 July 2013). "Sharon van Rouwendaal: een andere route" (in Dutch). FuturumBlog. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  7. "LEN Awards 2015". LEN. 5 January 2016. Archived from the original on 3 February 2016. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  8. Andersen, Jared (3 December 2014). "Dutch women smash 800 free relay World Record to close day 1 in Doha". Swimswam. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  9. "Sharon van Rouwendaal Pushing Herself To Success In Kazan (SW Radio)". Swimming World Magazine. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  10. Keith, Braden (10 July 2016). "Wrong turn near finish causes chaos in women's Euro 10K". Swimswam. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  11. "Rio Olympics 2016: Sharon van Rouwendaal wins open water swim; Keri-Anne Payne seventh". BBC. 15 August 2016. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
Preceded by
Ana Marcela Cunha
FINA Open Water Swimmer of the Year
Succeeded by
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