On Sunday, 9 September 2012, the then Princess Máxima of the Netherlands swam the two-kilometre Amsterdam City Swim to raise money for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) through the canals of the city. She finished the course in just under an hour.
Dressed in a wetsuit and goggles, Máxima swam through the ancient, murky canals, which have not been officially designated as safe for swimming. Fresh river water is flushed through them on a nightly basis.
During the swim, she was supported and greeted at the finish line by her husband, then Prince Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange and their three daughters: Princess Amalia, Princess Alexia and Princess Ariane.
Dutch celebrities like Pieter van den Hoogenband and Marleen Veldhuis also took part. Both are Olympic champions in swimming.
The Amsterdam City Swim for ALS (or Motor Neuron Disease, MND, as it is called in the United Kingdom) will take place this year on 3 September. It will begin at the Marine Etablissement Amsterdam. More information can be found here.
ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease is a neurological disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot discovered the disease in 1869. In 1939, ALS became well-known after Lou Gehrig, New York Yankees first baseman from 1923-1939, was diagnosed with the disease at the Mayo Clinic, which ended his baseball career. Afterwards, the disease became closely associated with his name, with many referring to it as “Lou Gehrig’s disease”.
Various royals across Europe are helping in the fight against this horrid disease. They include Princess Anne, Queen Letizia of Spain, Princess Astrid of Belgium and Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden.