Milak defies illness to set new personal best at Hungarian Nationals

Simone Castrovillari – LENLEN-Roma 2022

Hungarian Olympic champion and ‘poster boy’ Kristof Milak won the 100m freestyle event – in a new personal best time – on the opening night of the Hungarian short-course Nationals at Kaposvar.

Milak has struggled with illnesses throughout 2023, with the latest having seen him bed-bound for a week in the build-up to these Championships, undoing much of his preparation work.

However, his ability to recover is almost as astounding as his achievements in the pool.

He recorded a time of 46.72 seconds in the final, beating his previous best of 46.93 set last October at the Fina Swimming World Cup in Budapest.

Earlier in the year he defied expectations by setting a new 200m butterfly world record at the Fina World Championships despite falling ill six-seven weeks earlier at a training camp in Thailand.

This autumn also ‘presented him’ with some viruses, he couldn’t attend trainings in early October, but soon after he returned, his coach (also head of the swimming coaching faculty at the University of Physical Education) to tell him that an urgent review was needed about some parts of the lectures presented at the University.

“Kristof defies everything we learned on recovery, on swimmers’ abilities soon after restart,” said his caoch Balazs Virth.

“I watched on the clock during an 8x100m fly exercise and could not believe to my eyes. Well, we know that he is a genius, still, I was grasping for air. Unlike him…”

WATCH MILAK CLAIM EUROPEAN 200M BUTTERFLY GOLD

Milak started the nationals in beast mode, knocking off the challenge of sprinter specialist – and three-time European short course champion – Szebasztian Szabo in the men’s 100m free final.

“It was a fine swim,” Milak said after the race.

“I wouldn’t say I’m way faster, I’m just swimming the sprint events smarter.

“I practiced a lot of technical elements, my start is better, also the turns and definitely the underwater kicks. This part is essential in short-course, isn’t it?

“Next year I may test myself at international short-course meets, though the schedule will be pretty busy so I can’t make a promise on that.”

“This championship is a test, I want to see how I fare in the 200m events, in the fly and in the free, held on the second and third day and if I’m able to reach the level I want in those races.”

Image courtesy of Hungarian Swim Association/Istvan Derencsenyi

While Szabo had to settle for silver in the 100m butterfly event, he would not be denied in the 50m backstroke final, out-touching Richard Bohus by 0.01 seconds.

In the men’s 200m individual medley, Adam Telegdy, who was fifth in the 200m backstroke at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, surprised long-course European champion Hubert Kos in a fierce finish which saw him claim gold by just 0.02 secs.

“I took part in all three stages of the FINA World Cup so you can say I gained enough racing experience to be defeated this way, but at least it’s another sign that I need to work on that,” said Kos with a smile.

“I’m sure that next year in the US I will learn to do the best finish possible.”

Kos will join the legendary Bob Bowman – formerly Michael Phelps’ coach – at his new setup in Arizona from January, which he considers a big jump and a huge opportunity in his career.