Born Sept. 21, 1987 Femke Heemskerk is a sprinter from the Netherlands. Although she’s primarily a freestyle swimmer, she’s versatile in distance and also has a solid backstroke and IM – she believes that her medley training significantly improves her freestyle swimming. Heemskerk is also a five-time national record holder in three different events.
Heemskerk is big on alternative training – she believes that training needs to be fun and not boring. In the past she’s ran stairs, participated in beach circuits, cycled, and taken belly dancing classes, but she’s recently begun running twice a week. And although she loves this sort of training, she says that she loves simply swimming the most. Heemskerk has recently been training with Marcel Wouda, a former Dutch international swimmer.
Standing 5’11” Heemskerk swam in her first international meet at the 2005 World Championships in Montreal, but she won her first international medal at the 2007 World Championships – she brought home a bronze medal as a part of the 400m freestyle relay.
At the 2008 European Championships Heemskerk broke her first world record on the Dutch 400m freestyle relay, and the same squad placed fourth in the 800m freestyle relay. In Manchester at the 2008 World Short Course Championships, Heemskerk won her first individual medals, finishing with a silver medal in the 200m freestyle. At the National Championships in June 2008, she broke three national records in the 200m freestyle, 200m IM and 100m backstroke.
2008 Beijing Olympics
During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Dutch relay team won a gold medal in the 400m freestyle relay. A few years later at the 2011 World Championships she won gold on the 400m freestyle relay, where she anchored the relay in the fastest split of the competition.
2009 World Championships
In Rome, Heemskerk swam on the world record setting 4×100 free relay, going 3rd and splitting 53.03. She also swam on the 4×200 free relay, which placed 10th overall, as well as the 200 free (1:56.86) individually, where she placed 11th.
2010 European Championships
While the Netherlands oddly enough did not win any relay medals at this addition of the Euro’s, Heemskirk did manage to get on the podium with a 3rd place finish in the 100 free.
2011 World Championships
The Netherlands were back on top in the 4×100 free relay in Shanghai. Femke anchored the gold medal relay in a field best split of 52.46, pulling ahead of the US in the final lap to touch first. Femke also swam the 200 free, where she was the top seed headed into finals (1:55.54) but fell to 7th in the final heat (1:57.63), and 100 free, where she was 2nd seed out of semis (53.67) and ended up tying for 4th (53.72) just outside of the medals.
2012 London Olympics
At the 2012 London Olympics Heemskerk and the Dutch relay finished second to the Australians in the 400m freestyle relay.
2013 World Championships
Femke once again came in clutch for the Dutch, splitting 52.86 on the 2nd leg of the 4×100 free relay and helping the Netherlands to a bronze medal. She also placed 5th in the 100 free (53.67) and and 11th in the 200 free (1:56.98).
2014 European Championships
In 2014 Femke won 3 medals at Euros, her first major meet where she medaled in both the 100 (silver, 53.64) and the 200 (bronze, 1:56.81) freestyle, as well as the 4×100 free relay (silver).
2014 Short Course World Championships
Femke was on fire in Doha, winning 4 golds and a bronze to boot. The Dutch swept the freestyle relays, winning all 3 (4×50, 4×100, 4×200) in world record fashion. Femke has field best split in both the 4×100 (50.58) and 4×200 (1:51.22) while she had the 2nd best split in the 4×50 (23.24) with only her teammate Ranomi Kromowidjojo swimming faster (22.88). On top of her relay accomplishments, she set a championship record en route to a gold medal in the 100 free (51.37) and placed 3rd for bronze in the 200 free (1:51.69).
In Apr. 2015 she posted two top-10 swims all time in the 200m (1:54.68) and 100m freestyles (52.69). Her swims placed her as the sixth fastest 100m freestyle swimmer of all time, and the fourth fastest 200m freestyle swimmer of all time. At the 2015 world championships, she garnered 2 silver in the womens and mixed 4×100 free relays, as well as a 5th place finish in the 100 free (53.58) and 8th place in the 200 free (1:56.79).
2016 Rio Olympics
Heemskerk swam the 100m and 200m freestyles and both the 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relays. The Netherlands finished fourth in the 4x100m freestyle relay, and Heemskerk’s best individual result was 16th in the semifinals of the 200m freestyle.
2017 World Championships
Heemskerk teamed with Kim Busch, Maud Van Der Meer and Ranomi Kromowidjojo to win the bronze medal in the 4x100m freestyle relay. Heemskerk split a 52.84 on the second leg of the relay.
Swimming the third leg on the 4x100m Mixed freestyle relay, Heemskirk helped Netherlands to a silver medal; teaming with Ben Schwietert, Kyle Stolk and Ranomi Kromowidjojo.
2018 European Championships
Heemskerk took in a medal haul of 4 silvers at the 2018 Euro champs, including 2 relays and 2 individuals. She placed 2nd in the 100 (53.23) and 200 (1:56.72) free, while also helping the Netherlands to 2nd place finishes in the women’s and mixed 4×100 free relays.