80-year-old Béla Fábián Returns to World Swimming Masters
Hungarian swimming Béla Fábián celebrated his 80th birthday on the 10th of January this year. Unlike most people his age, Béla will celebrate being an octogenarian by representing Hungary at the 2017 FINA World Masters Championships for swimming. The 28-time champion has had an impressive career to date and will certainly be one of the favourites in Budapest when the Masters kicks off in August.
Béla learned to swim at the age of 10 in his hometown of Eger. When he entered a school swimming competition, Béla’s world changed when he finished in third place. Béla said that he remembers not being angry about not winning; instead, he was motivated to take his swimming more seriously. He started to become a regular at the public pool and soon became unbeatable in the 50m breaststroke event.
Fabián went on to become a member of the Hungarian youth national swimming team in 1953. One year later, he graduated to the national team. At the European Championships in Turin, he picked up sixth place in the 200m breaststroke event. When he graduated from university, Fabián had to leave behind the world of professional swimming to focus on his career. 28 years later, Fabián bumped into his former student Zsolt Fejér, who happened to be the editor of a senior swimming magazine in Zurich.
More Medals on the Horizon?
Looking over the times of the best senior swimmers, Béla thought that he could be competitive and decided to take part in international competitions. In 1988, he entered the FINA World Masters Championships in Brisbane and won a gold medal in the swimming relay. Since then he has racked up a total of 27 gold medals at the Masters as well as 20 gold medals at the World Senior Games and a massive 40 gold medals at the European Masters Championships.
Until last year, Fábián competed in the 75-79 category. This year at the 2017 FINA World Masters, he will graduate the 80+ category representing his Swimming Club in Eger. Fábián says he plans to enter the 50m event as well as the 100m breaststroke, the 200m medley as well as the 320-year mixed relay along with three other swimmers. Fábián is feeling confident about his chances in each event, saying that he has a real chance of adding to his medal tally.
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