History IJsselmeer swimmmingmarathon Stavoren – Medemblik
In the year 1970 the first official IJsselmeer swimmingmarathon Stavoren-Medemblik was organized.
A number of well trained swimmers tried to cross the IJsselmeer under the guidance of safety boats and officials. To comprehense this apparently impossible challenge we will start with the man who crossed the IJsselmeer for the first time: Jan van Scheijndel.
At the age of 18 young Jan followed a internship and somebody from his job asked him to go swimming together on Sunday morning. Jan did so and it was the start of a remarkable swimming carreer. Firstly he did waterpolo, but soon he discovered to have talent for swimming long distances. In that time there were not much open water swimming competitions and only for 3 kilometers long. Jan wanted more.. he trained longer distances in the Westerschelde and from Kornwerderzand to Harlingen. He realized quickly the importance of dividing forces.
His daily roster was impressive: rise at 5 o’clock in the morning; provide training from 6 to 7 and then to go to work until 16:30 pm. Then again back to the pool to give training and finally doing his own practise in the water. From March 31 training took place in the outdoor pool, where Jan once swim in watertemperature of only 3 degrees celcius. In those circumstances it was swiftly swim a couple of lanes not to get too cold. And then building up the distance every following day. But Jan wanted more….
At one moment the idea popped up to cross the IJsselmeer. To realize this dream he had to gather enthousiastic people how wanted to help him in this challenge. The local tourist Office in Medemblik picked up this event. Together with manager Vreijsen Jan van Scheijndel went to fisherman Jan de Beer. Jan de Beer was eminently the person to escort this extreme crossing as de Beer did know the IJsselmeer by heart. The idea to support Jan van Scheijndel in the attempt to cross the IJsselmeer appealled De Beer and also his son Henk de Beer was immediately very enthousiastic.
After extensive preparations it went on. In the early morning at 8 o’clock Jan van Scheijndel started in the cold water in Stavoren. On the escortboat the tension was high as the wind was severe (NW 5-6). Some fishermen from Stavoren openly doubted this scene and were obvious suprised by the answer: “he is going to cross the IJsselmeer”!
But after 7 hours and 32 minutes Jan succeeded this challenge and finish in the harbour of Medemblik. The impossible had become possible: Jan van Scheijndel swam from Stavoren to Medemblik.
During his journey radiolisteners were kept informed about the hardships of Jan on the water. A small plane accompanied the swimmer to follow the progress.
After this heroic swimming adventure Jan van Scheijndel initiated together with swimming club DES, the Medeblik tourist office and families De Beer and Brakeboer an annually returning event. The start of the IJsselmeer swimming marathon between Stavoren and Medemblik for more than fifty years now.