In the Olympics and most swimming championships countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Australia among others dominate in turns but one small European country has given them a run for their money. Hungary has been doing well in the pools with the country having beaten champions from the large nations even to an extent where some of the national champions such as Katinka and Malik dominated the races for five years. Why does the country perform so well in swimming? In this article, we explore why Hungary is strong in swimming and also highlight some of the swimmers who have put the nation on the map. Mightytips predicts that the country will continue to perform well and might one day be the top swimming nation in the world.
In an attempt to understand why Hungary dines among the giants in the swimming competition it is important to immerse yourself in the Magyar culture and the importance of thermal, curative, and sports culture. Visiting its capital city Budapest will have you visit Margaret Island and the Alfred Hajos pool. The pool is a symbol of swimming in the country; it is an institution by itself, holding so much memory for this country. It is more than a sports infrastructure; it represents the power of swimming, the history of swimming in the country, and the symbol of a legend. Alfred Hajos was the first swimmer to win a gold medal in the Olympics.
He set a path that has been followed by many Hungarians after him. He took home two gold medals from the 1896’s Athens games. When the King of Greece sought to know where his success and power came from, he told him “from the water.” Indeed it was from the water, his father died from drowning, something that ignited anger into his blood. This anger was later to prove beneficial as he devoted himself to swimming so that no one else in the family dies from drowning.
Lake Balaton and other waters
Apart from the presence of the Alfred Hajos pool, a facility that has inspired many into the swimming competitions, Hungary is also home to the largest lake in Central Europe, the Balaton. Water is everywhere; you will find many natural baths, beaches, and many other open-air water areas. People bathe in these water areas during the day, and here children start swimming early, actually, you will find kindergarten children who can swim pretty well.
Swimming is part of the school activity. The four types of swimming are taught right from the lower levels and continue to the mid-levels. It has become a tradition since the 1970s. Also, the desire by the government to promote the sport and also to make it an important social event.
Another Hungarian swimming legend who has propelled the sport to higher heights is Krisztina Egerszegi.
- She is treated as a national symbol and remains one of the most decorated swimmers
- To her name, she has five Olympic gold medals, with the first one having been won when she was only 14 and weighing 45kgs
- Her winning in the Seoul Olympics in 1988 was a big moment in her country; she dominated the TVS in Hungary
The popular phrase “come on little Mouse! Come on little girl “which was coined by Tamas Vitray became and is still a part of the popular culture in Hungary. Even at 46, she is still regarded as a champion and a great role model in the country. Her continued performance in the preceding championship saw her earn the title Queen Kristina and great recognition not just in Hungary but at the international level too. A book has been written and a documentary film was made in her honor.
Pools per capita
Hungary is home to more than fifty-five 50 meters swimming pools. When you compare it to its neighbors, the country which has a population of close to ten million has the largest pools per capita. It can comfortably host an Olympic event as well as many other large international championships.
Swimming is a culture in Hungary, the recent swimming marathon and similar events that are organized regularly in the country means that the country will continue to dine among the big nations in Swimming. A total of seven thousand people took part in the 39th Balaton cross swimming, a mass swimming event that is held regularly in the country. For people to compete in this event they engage in proper training as the track is 5.2 kilometers long. It takes about one hour for the fastest swimmer to finish. The event attracts all walks of lives including people living with disabilities. Kristof Raovszky, Tokyo silver medalist currently holds the record for this race.
The swimming star is still shining, after the exit of Krisztina Egerszegi in the scene more champions have followed her suit including Katinka and Kristof Milak. More names continue to emerge an indication that Hungary will continue to dominate in this sport.