Swimming the murky canals of Amsterdam for the Amsterdam City Swim!

Swimming in the smelly and murky canals of Amsterdam does not sound appealing at all. Weirdly enough each year more than 2000 swimmers eagerly complete a route of 2 kilometres through these waters in one of the world’s most pitoresque capitals. Now you might wonder why?

It started in 2012 by a group of friends who organised this event to raise funds to fight against the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) as one of their friends was diagnosed with this lethal progressive disease. Only a handful of people knew that the Dutch Queen Maxima would participate as well, having the media talking about it all around the globe. The Amsterdam City Swim has since been a very famous and successful event in the Netherlands.

September 2014: with a team of friends who support me, among thousands of people, we find our way to the changing rooms to get into our warm wetsuits. With our swimming caps, our goggles on our foreheads, we tiptoe towards the starting point after a brief photosession with my Mum, unfortunately the reason why we swim. With one hundred people at the same time we dive into the water and start our 2km challenge. Unexpectedly the water is rather warm, around 20°C on this sunny Sunday. We are encouraged by thousands of people, lined up on bridges and along the canals cheering loudly while waving banners. Photographers take pictures for a wide variety of newspapers and DJ’s produce uptempo beats which make the swimming easier for the last few hundred meters.

It is a unique experience! After spending months raising funds to be able to participate (€400 minimum per swimmer) which we exceeded easily (this year it seems to be a lot harder though!) it is over before we realise it. Reaching the finish, we are provided with a bathrobe, towel, banana and energy drinks. A bus takes us back to the Marine Establissement where we wait for others to arrive. Flawless organization!

Early at night the organisation announces the total amount of money raised; € 2.160.492‚-!! Money that will be spent on research and patient care. People are emotional, everyone is hoping for a breakthrough in the research field. Time to celebrate.

In only a few days, on September 6, both of us will dive into the canals again. With my Mum, luckily being able to cheer for us one more time. She keeps fighting this disease which is still an unfair battle as there is no cure.



  • As the Amsterdam City Swim proves to be highly succesful, a New Amsterdam City Swim has been organised in the Hudson, New York City.
  • The best way to participate is to help us beat this disease by sharing this blog to raise awareness, by making a donation, by registering yourself to swim, or if you are in the Netherlands by cheering for the swimmers who all have a good reason to participate.
  • Together we fight against ALS!

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