Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hungary for Open Water Swimming

Hungary has enjoyed worldwide success in the pool, ranging from its outstanding Olympic water polo teams (9 gold medals) to its Olympic pool swimming greats such as Krisztina Egerszegi, a 7-time Olympic medalist, and László Cseh who won 3 silver medals in Beijing, all behind Michael Phelps.

Although Hungary is a land-locked country, it has a fine history in open water swimming. Lake Balaton, known as the Hungarian Sea, is the largest lake in central Europe and is the site of open water swimming competitions almost every weekend during the summer.

One of the most popular races is the 5.2K crossing of Lake Balaton where between 9,000 – 10,000 participants in the Balaton Átúszás. Levente Nagy-Pál (shown on left), an accomplished swimmer who is helping coordinate open water swimming based on his years of racing 10K and 25K events in Fukuoka, Atlantic City, Barcelona and Dubai, is the record-holder.

Zsolt Németh, who runs the Balaton Masters and who is the Hungarian Open Water Swimming Federation secretary, has a great slogan, 'Sports for All, Masters Forever, Champions Together.' Among the various open water swimming events held almost every weekend, the Balaton Masters organizes a 3.6K cross-bay event in Lake Balaton that draws up to 8,000 participants.

In 2006, the Hungarian Swimming Federation organized the European Swimming Championships in Budapest and will also hold another European Swimming Championships in 2010 as well as holds a National Long Distance Swimming Grand Prix series.

For young or old, newcomer or experienced, fast or fitness swimmers, Hungary is another great region for open water swimming on the global calendar. As an added bonus, even 3-time Olympic silver medalist László Cseh occasionally participates in the Hungarian open water swims.

Copyright © 2009 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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