2022 EUROPEAN AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS
- Thursday, August 11 – Wednesday, August 17, 2022 (pool swimming)
- Rome, Italy
- Parco Del Foro Italico
- LCM (50m)
- Meet Central
- Event Schedule
Before the Tokyo Olympics, Richard Marton almost quit swimming.
According to his longtime training partner, Kristof Milak, the now 22-year-old Marton kept swimming “only to support [Milak’s] preps for the Games. But we convinced him he had a lot more in him.”
Marton competed at the Tokyo Olympics as a member of Hungary’s men’s 4×200 freestyle relay, which was disqualified in the prelims.
But after Olympic disappointment and almost quitting the sport, Marton opened up a new chapter of his career at the 2022 European Championships.
On Day 1, he was a part of Hungary’s gold medal team in the 4×200 free relay, setting a national record in the process. It was a huge moment for the squad, whose last win together came at the 2017 World Junior Championships in Indianapolis, where they out-touched the U.S by one-hundredth for gold and the world junior record.
After the race, Marton reflected on how far he’d come since that moment.
“It was so long ago. I’m so happy that after all that I went through, that I almost quit, I’m here and I achieved that. All of us had fantastic swims.”
Marton wasn’t done yet: on the penultimate day, he won his first individual medal at a senior long course international meet, a silver in the 200 butterfly.
Not only did that race earn him his first senior individual medal, it was also his first individual final at a senior international championship.
To win the medal, he roared to a new personal best of 1:54.78, eclipsing his old mark by 1.45 seconds. Marton has been improving rapidly in the 200 fly this season; he’d set his old mark in April, at the Hungarian Championships. Before that, his best swim was a 1:57.79 from 2018, which means that just this year, Marton has chopped over three seconds from his best.
|Marton – 2022 Euros||Marton – 2022 Hungarian Champs|
|100||54.32 (28.90)||54.94 (29.41)|
|150||1:24.40 (30.08)||1:25.17 (30.23)|
|200||1:54.78 (30.38)||1:56.23 (31.06)|
At the European Championships, Marton was faster than his previous best on all four 50s, with his biggest improvement coming on the final length, closing 68 one-hundredths faster in Rome than he did earlier this year in Hungary. He used his new closing speed to come home in 30.38, third-fastest in the field behind only Milak and Denys Kesil, who tied for sixth place.
That seems to be one aspect of his race that Marton has focused on because he said that “[he] knew some will storm away at the beginning of the race, but [he] also knew that [he’d] come like hell at the end.” He continued, saying that “this silver is very special – different than the gold with the relay – but the two together remind me the road I’ve traveled until now and that gives me some satisfaction.”
Milak, who won gold ahead of Marton, was also thrilled. When asked about his race, he responded “my race? Who cares? The big story here is Richard’s silver. That’s something I’m really crazy about.”
With his 1:54.78, Marton enters his name into a long tradition of Hungarian excellence in the 200 fly.
There’s Milak, the world record holder, who’s now over a second faster than Michael Phelps and even more ahead of his competitors. Tamas Kenderesi won bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in the event. The legendary Laslo Cseh won 12 medals in this event across long and short course international championships, including Olympic silver in 2008 and the LC world title in 2015.
On the women’s side, Boglarka Kapas was the 2019 world champion and was the back-to-back European champion in 2018 and 2021.
The most interesting comparison for Marton is with Kenderesi. With Cseh retired and Milak in his own league, Kenderesi will be Marton’s main obstacle to securing an individual roster spot for Paris.
Had he swum at Worlds, Marton would have finished fifth, just ahead of Kenderesi. Kenderesi’s fastest time of the season came in the Worlds semis, where he went 1:54.79, just a hundredth behind Marton’s Euros time. Kenderesi holds a lifetime best of 1:53.42, but that’s from 2019, setting up a thrilling battle between these two for roster spots for the rest of the quad.