BEIJING, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Maarten van der Weijden of the Netherlands put on a late burst Thursday to become the first men's Olympic champion in marathon swimming.
Van der Weijden passed Britain's David Davies in the final meters of the 10-kilometer race and powered his way to the win in the time of one hour, 51 minutes, 51.6 seconds. Davies finished 1.5 seconds behind.
The winner pulled himself out of the water, waved to the crowd and accepted congratulations up and down the deck.
Davies, meanwhile collapsed from exhaustion as soon as he got out of the water and had to be assisted by attending medical personnel.
Thomas Lurz of Germany finished third in a race contested in a steady rain over the Olympic canoe/kayak course. Lurz was only two seconds off the pace. The top American was Mark Warkentin, who wound up 21 seconds behind in eighth place.
Van der Weijden, a popular figure on the European professional swimming circuit, had a stem cell transplant in 2001 that helped him recover from leukemia and he sleeps in a high-altitude tent to assist his training.
The first women's swimming marathon race in Olympic history was won on Wednesday by Larisa Ilchenko of Russia.