Kristóf Milák Matches 100 ‘Fly Speed Of Three-Way Olympic Silver Of Phelps, Cseh & Le Clos: 51.14 In Post-Corona Race Comeback

Kristof Milak of Hungary celebrates after winning in the men's 200m Butterfly Final during the Swimming events at the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships, Gwangju, South Korea, 24 July 2019.
Kristof Milak - Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

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Kristóf Milák, the Hungarian who crushed the 200m butterfly World record for the global crown in Gwangju, Korea, last year, just gave a big hint that COVID-19 lockdown has been no barrier to his maintaining world-class form in the pool: 51.14 was the time on the Budapest scoreboard at the end of the 100m race on the first of three days at a four-nations comeback international in Budapest to celebrate “World Aquatics Day”.

Fellow World champion teammate Katinka Hosszú made her race comeback with a 4:42.56 win in the 400m medley, the triple Olympic champion going through in 1:05.04, 2:17.65 and 3:37.97. In the 400m medley final with Hossú at the helm, Hungarian 15-year-old Réka Nyirádi was second in 4:47.08, third home Austria’s Claudia Hufnagl in 4:49.21.

The men’s long medley was just as impressive for a comeback moment: seasoned international Dávid Verrasztó clocked 4:14.41 for the win over 16-year-old teammate Hubert Kós, on 4:15.77, Poland’s Dawid Szwedzki, on 4:20.44.


Michael Phelps beams across the lanes to Laszlo Cseh after both tie for silver with Chad Le Clos in the 100m butterfly won by Joe Schooling at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games – Photo Courtesy: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

If that hinted at the longer road back to full water fitness for those racing the bigger distances, Milák produced a speedy 100m, his time a precise match of that granted Michael Phelps, Laszlo Cseh and Chad le Clos an historic three-way silver behind Joe Schooling in the Olympic 100m butterfly final at Rio 2016.

That’s how fast Milák was on a first race day in months coming out of relative pandemic lockdown.

Out in 24.04 at the glorious Alfréd Hajós National Swimming Stadium on Margaret Island, Budapest, he came home in the fifth best time of his career on a list topped by the 50.62 he clocked at the 2017 World Championships in the Duna Arena pool just a couple of kilometres upstream on the east bank of the Danube.

By the time he rose to his blocks for the ‘fly final, Milák had already put in a speedy 200m free: Astra’s Felix Auböck got the touch in 1:46.64, the Hungarian on 1:47.16, Poland’s Kacper Majchrzak third in 1:47.84.

Three of Milák’s four best times over 100m ‘fly were set at the 2017 World titles in the same capital city, which serves as his training base. The third of his three career sub-51s, 50.95 in semis, was the best of him at World titles last year in a week that elevated the Hungarian to the status of soaring pioneer of the pool. In the Gwangju final, he clocked 51.26, slower than he was today in Budapest.

Then 19, Kristóf Milák earned plaudits from Michael Phelps and coach Bob Bowman after he sank the American giant’s 200m free World record by a 0.76sec chunk in 1:50.73.

But for the coronavirus pandemic, the Hungarian would have been racing in the rounds and final of the 200m butterfly at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games next Tuesday and Wednesday but he, along with all others, must wait a year.

KAPAS Boglarka HUN Gold Medal 200m Butterfly Women Final Glasgow 06/08/2018 Swimming Tollcross International Swimming Centre LEN European Aquatics Championships 2018 European Championships 2018 Photo Giorgio Scala/ Deepbluemedia /Insidefoto

Boglarka Kapas; Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala/ Deepbluemedia /Insidefoto

His form today suggests that the health crisis has not been as big an issue for him as for others who spent months out of the water. Hungarians have continued to train in the water for most of the time during the pandemic. It showed today as Hungary took on teams from Austria, Czech Republic and Poland at the pool that hosted the 2006 and 2010 European Championships.

If the meet in 2010 marked something of a rebirth for swimming after the short-lived shiny suits stretch, today will send a wave of hope across the swimming world: not only back in training – but racing, too.

Closest to Kristóf Milák, was Jakub Majerski, of Poland, on 52.13, his teammate Michal Poprawa on 53.22 in third.

World 200m butterfly champion Boglarka Kapas got the party started with a 1:59.62 win over 200m freestyle ahead of Austria’s Marlene Kahler, on 1:59.74, third place to the Hungarian winner’s teammate Anja Késely, on 2:00.66.

No sooner had they caught their breath that Késely and Kahler were back in for the 1500m freestyle: they finished in that order at the helm on 16:30.35 and 16:36.83, Poland’s Paulina Piechota third in 16:41.42.

Kapas, Olympic bronze medallist over 800m free, bypassed the longest race for a go at the 100m butterfly: a 1:00.29 effort was good for third in a race won by fellow Hungarian Liliána Szilágyi in 59.70 ahead of Poland’s Paulina Peda, on 59.76.

In other action, the women’s 50m backstroke went to Austria’s Caroline Pilhatsch in 28.03; the men’s 100m breaststroke to Austria’s Valentin Bayer in 1:00.27; the men’s 50m backstroke to Poland’s Kacper Stokowski in 25.53; and the women’s 100m breaststroke to Dominika Sztandera in 1:08.60.

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1 comment

  1. avatar

    I don’t think it will hurt Milak to have to wait another year before making his first Olympics, on contrary 🙂