Born January 21, 1988 Pieter Timmers is a Belgian sprint freestyle specialist. Originally from Neerpelt, Timmers has been a competitor in some of the world’s top international competitions and won Belgium’s first Olympic medal in 20 years when he claimed silver in the 100 meter freestyle at the 2016 Rio Olympics. That was Timmers’ second Olympic Games. He made his debut four years earlier in London, just three years after he began training seriously.
Previously, swimming was just a hobby for Timmers. While he was studying, he trained six hours a week in a 20 meter pool but when his times were as good as Belgium professionals he decided to see where proper training and focus could get him. As soon as he graduated aged 21, Timmers moved to Eindhoven, Netherlands to train at the Pieter Van den Hoogenband swimming pool with coach Patrick Pearson.
2011 Breakout Year
Timmers’ major international breakout was in 2011, when he competed in the European Championships and the Shanghai World Championships. Timmers qualified for World Championships as a member of Belgium’s 4×100-meter and 4×200-meter free relays — he competed on both relays, but the 4×100 free relay was disqualified. Later in the year he swam at the 2011 World Cup, he tied the Belgian Record in the 100-meter free touching in 47.90, and broke the 200-meter free record in 1:44.89.
2012 London Olympics
Not long after his initial breakout Timmers qualified for the London Olympics. As a relay and individual swimmer Timmers was competing on the 4×100-meter free relay and the 4×200-meter free relay. Teamed up with Dieter Dekoninck, Jasper Aerents and Emmanuel Vanluchene, the squad advanced to the final of the 4×100-meter free relay, where they eventually took 8th. Timmers also helped the 4×200 relay team to a 12th place finish. Individually he reached the semi-final of the 100-meter free, breaking the Belgian Record.
2012 European Short Course Championships
After the Olympics Timmers competed at the 2012 European Short Course Championships. He first competed in the 200-meter free, and finished after Olympic champion, Yannick Agnel, for 2nd — his time was a new Belgian Record. He broke the Belgian Record in both the 50 and 100-meter free events, finishing just out of medal contention, and took home the bronze in the 4×50-meter free relay.
2013 World Championships
Competing in both the 100 and 200-meter free and relay events, Timmers’ best finish came in 7th place in the 4×200-meter free relay. Individually he finished his two freestyle events in the top 16 swimmers, but didn’t advance to the championship final. In October of that year Timmers suffered from a collapsed lung, and underwent surgery in 2014.
2014 European Championships
Timmers didn’t take much time off to recover from his lung surgery. That year Timmers competed at the 2014 European Championships in Berlin. Without much training he finished 5th in the 200-meter free, and amazingly set a new Belgian Record in the event in 1:47.01.
2015 World Championships
With a solid year of training and recover from his 2014 lung surgery, Timmers qualified for the 2015 World Championships, which were held in Kazan. Timmers qualified for the championship final of the 100-meter free alongside former Olympic champion, Nathan Adrian, and sprint powerhouses from all around the globe. In a tight heat, Timmers finished 7th overall, which set a new Belgian Record.
2016 Rio Olympics
Timmers won his first Olympic medal with a silver in the 100 meters freestyle. At the halfway point, he turned in 5th. Over the final 50, there was a lot of reshuffling around the pool. But Timmers posted the second fastest final split after the winner Kyle Chalmers to move all the way up to second ahead of defending Olympic Champion, Nathan Adrian who took the bronze.
In the relays, Timmers helped Belgium to a 6th place finish in the 400 meter freestyle relay and 8th in the 800 meter freestyle relay.