Pieter van den Hoogenband

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Pieter Cornelis Ruud Martijn van den Hoogenband (born 14 March 1978 in Maastricht) is a Dutch former swimmer and a triple Olympic champion.

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Personal life

Born in Maastricht, Limburg, the son of Cees-Rein van den Hoogenband and Astrid Verver, a former Dutch 800 m freestyle silver medalist at the European Championships, he grew up in Geldrop, where he swam for PSV Eindhoven. His father is a team doctor with the professional football team of the same club. In 1993, Van den Hoogenband achieved his first successes, performing well on the European Youth Olympic Days. He and his wife, former medley swimmer Minouche Smit, had their first child, a daughter named Daphne, on 23 June 2007. Their second child, a son, Sander was born on 13 September 2009.

Swimming career

Prior to the Atlanta Games, Astrid van den Hoogenband, who was coaching the Dutch team, became frustrated with the swimmers representing the Netherlands, feeling they had much potential but would not be able to live up to it due to lack of adequate support. She pleaded with Cees to take action, as he carried much weight from his professional connections. After Astrid threatened to remove Pieter from the sport, Cees created a small foundation and signed up 20 initial sponsors who each paid $2,500 to fund a team trainer. The Dutch swimming team eventually signed contracts with Philips, Nike, and Speedo. Enough funds were raised to open a swim school in Eindhoven, Van den Hoogenband's place of residence. The team eventually grew to ten. Pieter remained the Netherlands' brightest star, and along with fellow Dutch Inge de Bruijn brought the Netherlands many victories in the sport.

1996 Olympics

His international breakthrough came at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Only 18 years old, Van den Hoogenband exceeded the expectations of many by finishing 4th in both the 100 m and 200 m freestyle respectively. He won the 50m freestyle B final, also finishing 5th in the 4x100m freestyle relay, 7th in the 4x200m freestyle relay & 10th in the 4x100m medley relay.

2000 Olympics

After winning 6 gold medals at the 1999 European Championships, he was one of the favourites at the 2000 Summer Olympics, but his adversaries were formidable. In the 200 m freestyle he faced the world record holder, Australian youngster Ian Thorpe, favourite of the home crowd in Sydney. In the semi-finals, Van den Hoogenband set a new world record, but Thorpe countered with a time only 0.02 s slower. In an exciting final, Van den Hoogenband equalled his time from the semi-finals to win the gold medal. In the 100 m freestyle, Van den Hoogenband again set a world record in the semi-finals and won his second gold medal, defeating the 1992 and 1996 champion, Alexander Popov. His 100 m world record stood until March 21, 2008 and was broken by France's Alain Bernard (47.60). van den Hoogenband won two more medals, both bronze, in the 50 m freestyle and the 4×200 m freestyle relay, in which he was the final swimmer.

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