The Hungarian Nationals, held June 21-27, produced only a few world-class times, but featured a major upset. Sixteen-year-old South African, Sarah Poewe, who hopes to challenge countrywoman Penny Heyns at the Pan Pacific Championships this year, took a giant leap forward by twice defeating Hungary’s Agnes Kovacs. Kovacs, 18, was the gold medalist in the 200m breaststroke at last year’s World Championships in Perth and was Swimming World’s “1998 European Swimmer of the Year.”
Poewe edged her Hungarian rival in the 100m breaststroke, 1:09.43 to 1:09.56, then thrashed her in her best event, the 200. Poewe clocked 2:29.70 to Kovacs’ 2:32.01.
The meet also saw the return of 1996 Olympic champions Attila Czene and Norbert Rosza, both of whom had taken more than a year off. Czene won his specialty, the 200 IM, in a solid 2:02.88. Rosza, who won gold in the 200m breaststroke at the 1994 and ’98 World Championships as well as the 1996 Olympics, took his specialty in 2:16.85, then added the 100 in 1:03.47. In winning the 100 he edged Olympic silver medalist and former 100m breaststroke world record-holder, Karoly Guttler, 31, who is also making a comeback.
Fifteen year-old Orsolya Ferenczy set the only national record at the meet when she won the women’s 100m butterfly in 1:00.37.