At 35, Laszlo Cseh Set For One Last Olympic Final in 200 IM Before Retirement

Gian Mattia D'Alberto / lapresse 26-07-2017 Budapest sport 17mi Campionati Mondiali FINA di nuoto nella foto: Chad Le Cos RSA, oro 200 farfalla, Laszlo Cseh HUN Argento Gian Mattia D'Alberto / lapresse 2017-07-26 Budapest 17th FINA World Championships in the photo: Chad Le Clos RSA, gold 200 fly, Laszlo Cseh HUN, silver
Laszlo Cseh, right, and Chad le Close at the 2017 World Championships; Photo Courtesy: Gian Mattia D'Alberto /LaPresse

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At 35, Laszlo Cseh Set For One Last Olympic Final in 200 IM Before Retirement

Time flows on, new swimmers come and go on the international scene, and yet Laszlo Cseh persists.

Into his mid-30s, through five Olympics, the number of swimmers Cseh has seen as teammates and competitors is gargantuan. And yet, Cseh will still be there Friday morning at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, doing what he always seems to do at the Olympics: Make himself a factor in a final.

On Thursday, the Hungarian posted the eighth-fastest time in the semifinals of his only event of his fifth and final Olympics, the 200 individual medley. That 1:57.64 was good enough to book a lane in the final Friday, as Cseh chases a medal at his fifth consecutive Olympics.

“I am very happy about that because right now I try to enjoy the races and not just wanting to be the best,” Cseh said. “I’m really happy I made the final and let’s see what happens then.”

The six-time Olympic medalist soldiered through the final year to Tokyo with some hesitation. Those extra 12 months felt more pressing to him given his advanced age. They were also personally arduous with the passing of his father, Laszlo Cseh Sr., in Aug. 2020.

Cseh has said this Games will certainly be his last. Leaving them with a medal would be a lovely, if unexpected parting gift.

Cseh is one of the sport’s all-time competitors. It’s fair to wonder what his career would’ve been like were it not for the misfortune of being born five months after and specializing in the same events as one Michael Phelps. Cseh won bronze in his first Olympics in Athens in 2004 in the 400 individual medley. Four years later in Beijing, he set three European records, yet settled for silver each time – in the 200 butterfly, 200 IM and 400 IM – behind Phelps’ world records. He added a surprising 200 IM bronze in London in 2012, among three top-12 finishes, then rolled back the years in Rio for a most unforgettable race, tying for silver with Chad le Clos and Phelps behind Singapore’s Joseph Schooling.

And now four years on? Phelps is in the broadcasting booth. Longtime rival Ryan Lochte is home, having failed to qualify from Olympic Trials. And Cseh remains in the pool, the sixth-oldest Olympic swimmer in Tokyo. Three men’s swimmers – David Popovici of Romania, Jacob Whittle of Great Britain and Theo Druenne of Monaco – were born after Cseh swam his first Olympic race.

His haul of accolades resides somewhere in the lower stratosphere. In addition to his six Olympic medals, he has 13 from the World Championships (two gold), plus four from Short Course Worlds. He has a total of 48 European Championships medals – 23 in long course, including 14 golds; 25 in short-course, with 19 golds.

If he doesn’t add one to the list Friday, well that’ll be just fine with Cseh.

“Maybe I am still here but now it is the perfect time to close my career and the final will be my last race,” he said. “One more day and then enjoy my whole life.”

2 comments

  1. avatar
    Bob Hopkins

    it has been fun watching Laszlo throughout his career and I wish him success and happiness in his post competitive swimming life

  2. avatar
    laszlo telegdi

    I’ve always looked up to laszlo and I’m proud of his performance.

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