Dutch swimming’s golden girl
The Netherlands’ Ranomi Kromowidjojo was one of the queens of the pool at London 2012, recording stunning victories in the 50m and 100m freestyle.
Her first swimsuit at 3
Hailing from a family of Javanese-Surinamese ancestry, Ranomi Kromowidjojo was born and brought up in Sauwerd, in the Dutch province of Groningen. Her love of water can be traced back to her early years. On receiving her first swimsuit at the age of three, she promptly threw herself into a swimming pool, believing that her new outfit would keep her afloat. When her mother dived in to fish her out, the undaunted toddler said she wanted to dive back in.
Kromowidjojo was only 15 when she represented the Netherlands in the 4x100m relay at the 2006 European Championships in Budapest. After winning silver on that occasion, the Dutch quartet took bronze at the 2007 FINA World Championships in Melbourne and then went on an incredible run, starting at Beijing 2008, where Kromowidjojo teamed up with Inge Dekker, Femke Heemskerk and Marleen Veldhuis, to win a gold medal and set an Olympic record of 3:33.76
Further success came the Dutch quartet’s way in Rome the following year, when they set a new world record of 3:31.72 in winning the world title, which they successful defended in Dubai in 2010 and again in Shanghai a year later. In Dubai Kromowidjojo also won the individual 50m and 100m short course world freestyle titles.
A London hat-trick
Kromowidjojo swam the last leg in the 4x100m freestyle final at London 2012, setting off in third place and then reeling in the USA’s Allison Schmitt to give the Dutch silver behind Australia. Four days later she set a new Olympic record of 53.05 in the semi-finals of the 100m freestyle, a time she bettered in winning the final the following day, where she recovered from fifth at the turn to power home in 53 seconds dead, a full 0.38 seconds clear of the Belarusian Aliaksandra Herasimenia, with China’s Tang Yi a further 0.06 seconds back in third.
The Dutch swimmer capped a memorable weekend in London by winning 50m freestyle gold. After going fastest in the heats and semi-finals, she led the final from start to finish and posted another Olympic record with a time of 24.07, becoming the fourth female swimmer in history to win the Olympic freestyle sprint double. To cap a superb 2012, she was named European Female Swimmer of the Year and Dutch Sports Personality of the Year.
Road to Rio
More success came Kromowidjojo’s way in 2013, when she took the 50m freestyle world title in Barcelona, where she also won bronzes in the 50m butterfly, 100m freestyle and the 4x100m freestyle relay. She then pocketed four golds at the 2014 short course worlds in Doha, topping the podium in the 50m freestyle and the 4x50m, 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relays. “I’m on the right track for Rio,” said the Dutch swimmer as she looked ahead to the 2016 Games. “It’s not the easiest of roads, but when you’ve got gold fever nothing can stop you from trying to track it down.”