By Norbert Agh
VIENNA, April 30. Over the past year, SwimInfo and Swimming World have kept you aware of the phenomenal progress of now 12 year-old Dani Gyurta, of Hungary.
Gyurta turns 13 late next month. Last weekend, he swam in his final meet as a 12 year-old, the Austria Meeting 2002, a premier European long course meet. A year ago, as an 11 year-old at this same meet, Gyurta went 2:26 for the 200 meter breaststroke. This year, before aging up, he swam four phenomenal times while competing in the senior division, times that, without question, are the fastest ever swum by a 12 year-old boy.
In the 50 meter breaststroke, Gyurta went 30.16 seconds to place ninth.
He swam 1:04.78 for the 100 meter breaststroke to place fourth.
In the 200 meter breaststroke he finished second in an amazing 2:17.98, two seconds behind Austria's Maxim Podoprigora, bronze medalist in this event at the 2001 World Championships.
For good measure, he clocked 2:10.83 in the 200m IM, finishing fourth.
For comparison's sake, the USA 11-12 national age group records are 31.88 for the 50m breast, 1:09.48 for the 100m, 2:30.12 for 200m, and 2:15.42 for 200 IM.
The US 13-14 NAG marks are 1:04.74 for the 100m breast, 2:23.32 for the 200 and 2:06.50 for the 200 IM. That latter mark is held by Michael Phelps.
In the 200m breast, Gyurta's best event, the 12 year-old is 5-1/2 seconds faster than the fastest-ever American 14 year-old!! Clearly, this is a young man on the move.
SwimInfo caught up with Dani after the meet in Vienna. Here is what he had to say:
SwimInfo: "Congratulations to you! Are you satisfied with these results?"
Dani: "Yes and no! Of course I am happy because these are my best times, but I wasn’t pleased with my turns and finishes. My coach told me that I could have gone close to 2:16 flat in the 200 breast if I had done my turns just a bit better."
SI: "That's not so bad because now you know where you can still improve a few seconds in this summer."
Dani: "Oh yes, but still the fact is that I would like to do my best every time I compete, and obviously this weekend I could have done better! This summer my most important meet will be the Hungarian Nationals, since I am too young to swim in both the Junior and Senior Europeans. At the Nationals, I will swim for the gold. I hope by then I will improve my turns so I am definitely looking forward to swim 02:16!"
SI: "Now you are still twelve but will be thirteen in a month, and you will turn fifteen just before the 2004 Olympics. Do you still believe that 02:10 will be enough to win the gold in the 200m breaststroke in Athens?"
Dani: "First of all, I am aware that as I get closer and closer to the world class senior times, it will be harder and harder to improve. Also I know that I will face tougher competition as time goes by, so I will have to practice even more. I think that next year the world record will be broken with a 2:09.0 at the World Championships, which makes me change my mind and say that whoever wants to win the 200m breaststroke in Athens will have to swim maybe even better than 2:09. Since I still want to do that, I will definitely have to swim under 2:10 too in Athens."
In other highlights of the Austria Meeting 2002 meet:
* Germany's Sandra Volker won the 50 and 100 free in 25.65 and 56.33. She also beat Diana Mocanu in the 50 back, 29.00 to 29.45.
* Romania's Diana Mocanu, double Olympic champion, won the 100 back in 1:02.54 and the 200 in 2:15.62.
* Ukraine's Yana Klochkova, double Olympic and world champion, took the 200 fly (2;10.81) and 200 IM (2:15.75)
* Hungary's Attila Zubor won the sprint double, taking the 50 free in 23.11 and the 100 in 49.82.