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Hosszu Tipped To Be 1st 2010 WR Breaker

Aug 8, 2010  - Craig Lord

Katinka Hosszu, world champion from Hungary over 400m medley, has been tipped to become the first swimmer to break a world record since the slowdown sparked by a January 1 ban on performance-enhancing, non-textile shiny suits. 

Austrian Markus Rogan, one of her training partners at Dave Salo's Trojan group in California, told a press conference here in Budapest on the eve of action at the 30th European Championships held since 1926: "There is a new and fascinating dynamic because of the ban on suits. Swimmers are afraid of being called Mr Suit, so everyone has trained a lot harder. I watched Katinka Hosszu all year and I think we can see her break the world record tomorrow."

To do that, she would have to improve 1sec on her X-Glide best of July 2009. A tall order to say the least, and one equivalent to a natural improvement beyond that margin. Not long to wait and see: the 400m IM is the first final for women tomorrow evening here at the splendid Alfred Hajos swim complex on Margaret Island. The world record of 4:29.45, set in a LZR Racer in 2008 on the way to the Olympic crown, stands to Australian Stephanie Rice. 

Hosszu's progress so far:

  • 4:30.31 2009 20 years old
  • 4:37.43 2008
  • 4:40.40 2007
  • 4:44.03 2006
  • 4:42.73 2005
  • 4:43.62 2004 15 years old

can she crack Rice?

LEN, the European Swimming League, hopes so. Today it announced, as expected, that it will follow the FINA line and leave all records untouched and unmarked. Part of the reasoning was that some European records were established in textile bodysuits and jammers at Eindhoven in 2008, and marking those along with efforts wrought in the full plastic fantastic floaties would be unfair. 

Noting that Budapest 2010 is the first major international since the ban on shiny suits, Sven Folvik of LEN said:  "The big question is what will the consequence for records be. For sure there are some consequences even if some swimmers didn't use the full bodysuits or those suits that gave then the most advantage." An accurate appraisal, and one seldom heard from international federation officials during the suits crisis: some had more advantage that others and the sport was rendered unfair. The record books reflect that skewed position in a fair few events and some standards will take a lot longer to get too than others regardless of the faith and hope that federations places in coaches and swimmers. 

Nory Kruchten, president of LEN, also placed his faith in the heavens above, recalling the storm that blew the championships out mid-session four years ago here on Margaret Island. The forecast this time round is for sun and temperatures of 30 to 35C all the way to Saturday, Sunday may bring inclement weather to cool us all down.

Kruchten asked all gathered if anyone had any problems that they needed to bring to LEN's attention. Rogan  had one problem and a request. The problem:  "Lazslo Cseh is very fast" - so perhaps LEN could have him removed from the championships so as to ease the Austrian's passage to a place where LEN could meet his request -  I remember four years ago was one of my favourite moments" he explained, citing two reasons. "...after the 100m backstroke final ... there was a very, very beautiful presenting girl, perhaps she could be here again...." The second reason was the storm: only he and Cseh had had the nerve to jump in for the 100 back final as lightning rods shone purple through a glowering yellow sky. "To take a lightning strike means you really have to love your swimming," he said by way of explaining that he preferred outdoor to indoor swimming.

On a serious note, Agnes Kovacs, 2000 Olympic champion over 200m breaststroke and now Hungarian ambassador for Unicef, was on hand to highlight LEN's partnership with the UN's international child welfare wing. She could not have put it better tahn when she noted: "We are lucky to be able to swim in clear water, while in other countries people don't have clean water to drink. Its a very big problem: every 20 seconds a child dies because they have no clean water. It is very impotant for us to support this programme."

Folvik said: "Water resources around the world are not even and to show solidarity, that is our obligation: to show that sports people can think a little outside themselves."

On Saturday before finals, a relay featuring Kovacs, two other Olympic champions and three Olympic silver medallists and young children setting out in the swim world will take part in a charity raising relay for Unicef.

Action gets underway in the pool tomorrow, the first finals featuring, assuming they make the grade in the morning, Paul Biedermann and Yannick Agnel in the 400m free for men; Hosszu and co in the 400m medley and the 4x100m free relays for men and women.

Georges Khiel, former French international and now spokesman for LEN, noted that the race pool had attracted 41 nations, including 319 men, 272 women, for a total of 591 swimmers,  1,300 individual entries between them, plus 84 relays. On your marks, set...