Fragile, strong, persistent and says life is fair on the long run. She appeared on the international stage a year ago when she finished fourth at the European Championships in London, yet she could not make it to the Olympics. She holds one of the fastest final legs of 200m backstroke. Her faith in swimming was restored by her current coach, Zsolt Plagányi as well as fellow club members in Törökbálint, including László Cseh. Beside him, her icons include Krisztina Egerszegi, although she did not see her swimming live since she was 1 when Egér retired from swimming, as well as Katinka Hosszú, whom she will definitely cheer in 200m backstroke, yet she will aim at influencing the result herself.
Her mother first took her to the pool because she wanted her to learn to swim. Then one day Sándor Széles approached the mother of the lovely, small girl and told her that Kata has a great potential and talent for swimming thanks to her good water balance, provided she would grow taller and get serious about her plans on swimming she could have a place in his team. So did she, at the age of 6 when she started swimming in the team of Balázs Virth and Sándor Széles in 2001, then she was transferred to Újpest together with the coaches. After more than 10 years of working together she needed a change and transferred to Kecskemét.
„ I needed a change and although I loved swimming in that club I asked my coaches at the time to refer a coach to me they think would be the most suitable. This is how I ended up with Károly Tőrös. He was highly motivated and it encouraged me a lot. This year has been extremely hard, I have learnt to train for life or death. It paid off, I achieved higher and higher results and my attitude became increasingly positive”-the 21-year-old swimmer said in May, 2016 adding that she had climbed out of a rather deep hole.
At the 2015 Kazan World Championships newcomer Kata Burián (aged 20 at the time) was placed ninth touching in 2:12.96 in 200m backstroke. A year later at the London European Aquatics Championships she finished fourth in 2:10.17 improving her personal best:
„In the last 25m I didn’t feel my arms, I just kept stroking feeling their energy, their hopes in me so I was the fastest in the last leg. This was my second major tournament so I have to say I don’t have much experience yet. I thrive to gain a medal at the next European Championships. Until then my goal at Olympics and World Champs is to make it to the next round. My next goal is to get in the finals and to achieve a time beginning with 2.09. Now the focus is to train my leg, I have 2 seconds disadvantage at turnings and the start, this is to be improved until Rio”- she told a local paper in Kecskemét upon returning home.
The big dream and racing in Rio was again followed by a low point, since although her fourth placement in 200m backstroke at the European Championships in London was the entry ticket to the Games, in the end she could not join Katinka Hosszú to Rio. Disappointment and pain led to another low point in her career, however, changing clubs and cooperating with Zsolt Plagányi helped her a lot to overcome it, not to mention the strength she could gain from her icons:
“It goes without saying that Krisztina Egerszegi has been an icon for me since I was a child, the superhuman efforts Katinka does encourage me a great deal and since I joined the same club Laci Cseh has helped me a lot in hardships and inspired me to believe in myself. He could not perform as good as he had intended to in 200m butterfly at the Olympics, but then he could pull himself together and prepare in mind so that he amazed everyone and clinched silver in 100m butterfly. I believe no one else would have been able to do what he did. In difficult times I always remind myself of his final. Although he is one of the best swimmers in the world, he has always been humble and modest and it is quite rare. I would like to be like him.”
Probably it is the exemplary career and achievements of Laci Cseh (who is preparing for his 8th World Champs and so far he returned as a medallist from each) which has confirmed her that the main strength they share is the never-give-up attitude and when facing failures they both start working even harder. Primarily it was her coach, Zsolt Plagányi who helped her overcome the breakdown after the Olympics and it took half a year for Kata to jump in the water again.
The nationals in Debrecen this April and Budapest Open in Duna Arena this month demonstrated how efficiently the team of Zsolt Plagányi is working. In the Arena Nándor Németh did an amazing job and touched in 48.64 in 100m freestyle entering the elite world and so did Kata Burián in 2:08.38, which may lead her to the finals at the World Championships in Duna Arena this summer.
“Honestly we did not train for this tournament specifically, I was really exhausted and had muscle fever when I arrived, the goal was to test Duna Arena really. We wanted to see what it feels like swimming here, what shall be further improved, but when I touched the wall I couldn’t believe the time board. My secret weapon is the last 50m, my finish is really powerful and I usually manage to overcome those who turn at the same time or a bit ahead of me at 150m, I have great reserves at the end. My point is not to be too anxious and stressed about the World Championships. The water in Duna Arena is brilliant, I loved it and I hope it will bring me luck in July, as well. Since I have just entered the stage really, the goal is to make it to the top 8. It would be a high point in my career, I definitely wish to get score ranking and my coach says I can improve my time till then”
As Kata said, the primary focus for the future is to improve her turnings and start, there is space for seconds of improvement, however, in fact her final leg is in the top internationally, which may come handy later as well. In order to get to this stage, it was necessary to make sure she enjoys the trainings, and not to be too anxious and stressed. Her master, Zsolt Plagányi helped her to relieve herself, what is more, sometimes he even has to hold her back The field of top swimmers entering 200m backstroke at the World Championships is encouraging rather than frightening for her:
“It will be a new experience to race with my icons, yet it is a dream come true. No doubt, my performance is approaching theirs and I managed to achieve this condition in almost one year but I have 3 more to go till the Olympics. It will be decisive at the World Champs how much I can control my mind and pull myself together, currently I am in a very good form physically and mentally alike. The international field is quite strong, Australian swimmer Emily Seebohm has outstanding results and I hope Katinka will change her Olympic silver to a gold this time. I find Russian swimmer Ustinova “dangerous”, too, and there are plenty more excellent swimmers, but I definitely wish to finish close to the top.”
No doubt, we anticipate a highly exciting and close race, Katinka Hosszú (2:06.05) was only 5 hundredths slower than Olympic gold medallist Madeline Dirado (US) (2:05.99). Their race was a special one, yet there could be 6-7 contenders of the podium. The current time of Kata Burián would rank her sixth now. Being in a great form in Italy she finished first touching in 2:09.89 last weekend.
Obviously, swimming plays a key role in her private life, as well, she has been in a relationship with Peter Holdoda for 3 years now. He is studying in the US currently, but he will attend the World Champs in Budapest with the men’s freestyle relay team. Beside swimming, Kata loves cooking in her free time, thanks to her genetics she does not to keep a strict diet and it everything goes well in July, she is planning a feast ala Kata Burián.