Jan Sefl Breaks Czech National Record; Qualifies for First Olympics at Age 30

2021 Orca Cup

  • April 30-May 2, 2021
  • Samorin, Slovakia
  • Long Course Meters (50 meters)
  • Meet Results

A new Czech National Record and multiple Olympic qualifying times highlighted the 2021 Orca Cup over the weekend in Samorin, Slovakia. There, swimmers from around the region, including Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovania, and Ukraine, came together for regional racing and a shot at Olympic qualifying times.

The headliner was 30-year old Jan Sefl, who won the men’s 100 fly and in a David-Plummer-esque* performance, swam 51.89 for a new Czech Record and a FINA “A” time for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

*David Plummer is the American backstroker famous for qualifying for his first Olympic Team in his 30s.

That makes him the 2nd Czech man ever under 52 seconds in the race and clears Michael Rubacek’s 2009 record of 51.99. The FINA “A” cut in the event is 51.96.

Most races for Sefl have gone the way that swimming usually goes for athletes in their 30s: the majority of his best times are from 2016 or earlier. But in the sprint butterflies, he’s been on a pandemic tear. In the 100, his best time entering 2021 was the 52.65 that he swam at the 2017 World Championships. Since April, he’s been faster than that time now in 5 different swims, including knocking half-a-second off in one go on Friday.

Sefl also picked up a win this weekend in the 50 fly, where he marked a 23.89. That’s just a tenth shy of his previous lifetime best from the 2017 World University Games.

On the women’s side, the headliner was Slovenian teenage distance freestyler Katja Fain, who won a whopping 5 races:

  • 100 free – 55.53
  • 400 free – 4:19.02
  • 800 free – 8:42.17
  • 1500 free – 16:20.94
  • 400 IM – 4:43.12

Among those swims, the 1500 free and 400 IM were both lifetime bests for her, with the 1500 free marking a first FINA “A” standard for her.

Her 200, 800, and 1500 free results were new Meet Records.

The most exciting and deepest race of the day came in the men’s 200 breaststroke, which was also the biggest win for the home team. There, two-time Olympian Tomas Klobucnik of Slovakia topped the field in 2:14.11, beating out Czech’s Filip Chrapavy (2:14.65) and Matej Zabojnik (2:14.95), as well as Ukrainian 17-year old Maksym Ovchinnikov (2:15.02). Zabojnik’s time broke the Ukraine Junior Record in the event which had stood since 2010.

Klobucnik’s winning time is an “A” cut for the European Championships, though it was well short of his 2013 best time of 2:11.

In total, 9 Meet Records were set in Samorin over the weekend.

Other Noteworthy Results:

  • 16-year old Jakub Poliacik was 5th in the mne’s 200 free, but his 1:52.54 set a new Slovakian Junior Record. He later added a 4:00.92 in the 400 free. Both swims meet “B” standards for the World Junior and European Junior Championships.
  • Czech Republic 19-year old Adam Hloben won the 200 fly in a new lifetime best of 1:58.44. That clipped three-tenths of a second off his old best time from the 2019 European Junior Championships. He’s now gone lifetime bests in 7 different events in the last 2 months.


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1 year ago

Jan used to train in Canada in the winters about 10 years ago with the Calgary Dinos. What a great guy. Glad to hear he’s ripping it up!

1 year ago

Quite unusual for a swimmer to improve so much not only after 30 but during a period when training was challenging.

Reply to  Crawler
1 year ago

Seems like this pandemic has actually helped a lot of swimmers, there have been so many Quick swims so far in 2021, maybe it shows that some swimmers need to rest more in order to produce quick times

Sunday Morning Grind
Reply to  maybe?
1 year ago

Or they’re rested now because of the pandemic and will swim slower come this summer because their bodies haven’t been forced to adapt to a higher training load.

Reply to  Sunday Morning Grind
1 year ago

Lots of time when athletes plateau the solution is to switch up how they train and covid forced everyone to do that so thats why lots of people are improving.

American Swimmer
1 year ago

that’s such a cool story, 30s is old! congrats Jan!

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Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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