In his native Hungary, he was known as “The Swimming Pope.” He was one of the most productive coaches of his generation, developing Olympic medalists at the Central Sports Club of Budapest for a 25-year period beginning in 1972 with Andras Hargatay winning the bronze medal in the 400 m IM at the Munich Olympic Games.
Other Olympic medalists he coached include: Sandor Wladar (1980, gold, 200 m backstroke); Zoltan Verraszto (1980, silver, 200 m backstroke; bronze, 400 m IM); Alban Vermes (1980, silver, 200 m breaststroke); Jozsef Szabo (1988, gold, 200m breaststroke); Tamas Darnyi (1988 and 1992, gold 200 m IM; gold, 400 m IM); Norbert Rozsa (1992, silver 100 m and 200 m breaststroke; 1996, gold, 200 m breaststroke); and Attila Czene (1992, bronze, 200 m IM; 1996, gold, 200 m IM).
Between them, Rozsa and Darnyi held nine World Records. To get away from the cold winters in Hungary, his team traveled the world to train in warmer climates. Always wearing his Los Angeles Angels baseball cap, he compiled a three-mac-rocycle training program used worldwide consisting of equal months of cross training, quickness and endurance training with competition training.
Being a little eccentric, his swimmers feared him, but they all trusted him. At eight World Championships between 1973 and 1998, his swimmers won 12 gold, 3 silver and 6 bronze medals. Szechy’s mark on Hungarian and International Swimming has been indelible.
The Alfred Hajos swimming complex on Margaret Island in Budapest is considered one of the finest facilities in the world and has been re-named the Alfred Hajos-Tamas Szechy Swimming Complex.