Quarantined Heemskerk’s 50 Free OLY Spot Snagged By Van Roon


Among the men’s national records that bit the dust on day 1 in Rotterdam, courtesy of Thom de Boer in the men’s 50m free and Arno Kamminga in the men’s 50m breast, the women’s events also brought the heat at this Olympic qualifer.

In the women’s 50m free, racing veteran Ranomi Kromowidjojo topped the podium with ease, hitting a time of 24.38 to further establish herself as the Netherlands’ premier 50m freestyler. That nearly matched her already Olympic-qualifying effort of 24.35 which rendered her the 6th place finisher at the 2019 World Championships.

A shakeup happened in the runner-up spot, however, as Valerie Van Roon sneaked into the wall for silver in a time of 24.63.

That result is significant for two important reasons. On a lesser level, her performance checks in as a huge lifetime best for 22-year-old Van Roon who had never before been under the 25-second threshold. Van Roon’s previous PB rested at the 25.21 she raced at 2018’s Swim Cup – The Hague.

Secondly and more impactful, however, is that Van Roon’s time now qualifies her as the 2nd 50m freestyler for the postponed 2020 Olympic Games set for next year in Tokyo, Japan. Her 24.63 time not only dipped under the FINA ‘A’ cut of 24.77, but it also outperforms 1 of the 2 previous Olympic qualifiers headed into this meet.

Entering Rotterdam, Femke Heemskerk had already tentatively qualified for the Olympic Games in the women’s 50m free and 100m free individual events from her semifinal finishes from last year’s World Championships. Teammate Kromowidjojo had already qualified for the same events as well.

Per the Dutch Olympic selection policy, the first phase of Olympic qualification began with the 2019 World Championships and ends with Rotterdam. Any swimming events without two qualifiers after this weekend would still be up for grabs if anyone could notch a qualifying time at either the 2021 Swim Cup Eindhoven in April or the 2021 European Championships.

Unfortunately for Heemskerk, the 33-year-old had to withdraw from Rotterdam at the last minute to the fact that her husband had tested positive for coronavirus. As such, the pair are in quarantine and the Olympic medalist was unable to compete here. Her time from Gwangju which previously put her on the list for Olympic qualification stood at 24.71.

All that needed to happen for Heemskerk to retain her OLY qualification was for no one but Kromo to be faster than 24.71. However, with Van Roon’s 24.63 stunner, she now moves into the 2nd Olympic qualifying spot with Heemskerk unable to race.

As we mentioned Heemskerk still has a qualification spot in the individual 100m free at this point.

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The unoriginal Tim
2 years ago

Should hold trials in June and the top two go. All the times at meet x plus times at meet y stuff is bogus and leads to out of form athletes at big meets. Happens in most sports and most countries.

Btw this is not a criticism of Heemskerk and I am not implying anything about her possible performance level next year. She must be gutted. It is simply an observation based on watching thr same thing happen year in year out.

2 years ago

Brutal. Hope she keeps that 100 free spot.

Corn Pop
Reply to  sven
2 years ago

Why not welcome a new name rather than focus on who is missing the spot?

Reply to  Corn Pop
2 years ago

Because Femke didn’t actually race for this spot, she’s quarantined

Reply to  Olympian
2 years ago

Tou cannot make exceptions.. consider this as well. The time van Roon made would be Heemskerk 4th time ever in her whole career. So it is not a given she would have beaten van Roon. She races at other races for her spot but simply was not fast enough

Corn Pop
Reply to  Olympian
2 years ago

Haha …For better or For Worse ….

2 years ago


2 years ago

Congratulations to Valerie, but this feels really unfair towards Heemskerk

Reply to  CRD
2 years ago

That should be a lesson for all athletes. You need to go into an isolated quarantine 14 days before an important competition. That means no spouse or significant other or any family or roommates can be in your household during that time period. If you want to chance it go ahead but you can’t blame anyone but yourself. I wonder if having the vaccine would allow you to compete.

Reply to  Taa
2 years ago

you’re getting downvotes but you’re not wrong. tough lesson and there’s no guarantee she would have been faster anyway

Reply to  Taa
2 years ago

If this was the only opportunity to qualify for the Olympics it might have been better to stay in a hotel. That being said, anyone could have come into contact with someone who had covid and been forced to quarantine if that’s what the rules are

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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