Hungarian Richard Marton Makes Major Breakthrough at European Championships

2022 EUROPEAN AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS

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
50 25.42 25.63
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.

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Sportinindc
1 month ago

Milák, Márton, Verrasztó, Kós, Kenderesi. Hungary is looking stacked in the fly.

Brownish
Reply to  Sportinindc
1 month ago

We’ve been hoped for 4×200 fly from decades 😉

Kim
Reply to  Brownish
1 month ago

Still need a better swimmer than Hollo, if they are going to compete for a medal I Paris, as they do for Holoda in the 100, maybe Meszaros – with two years more in his bag?

NathenDrake
Reply to  Kim
1 month ago

Sadly Holló is strong enough in head, and wants to train for the 400 medley which is impossible, not just for him, but for the rest of the World with Leon and 2 americans and Lewis Clareburt has a way better PB ad well.

With the olympic schedule Márton doesnt have a chance in 200 fly and the relay, we have saw that in Rome.

Hi has to train for the 200 free, and Holló/Zombori as well.
Mészáros cannot improve 3 seconds in 2 years, but Holló can be faster with his endurance.

For Marton its great opportunity to train with Milak in the 200 free as well.
And he has to mindset to do it, and be… Read more »

About Sophie Kaufman

Sophie Kaufman

Sophie grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, which means yes, she does root for the Bruins, but try not to hold that against her. At 9, she joined her local club team because her best friend convinced her it would be fun. Shoulder surgery ended her competitive swimming days long ago, …

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