- 29 Jul 1952
- Helsinki 1952
Székely edges compatriot Novák in breaststroke duel
It was in Helsinki that the butterfly first truly rose to prominence. It had only been adopted relatively recently by top-class swimmers, and was not yet sufficiently established to be given a race of its own, in instead being classed as being a type of breaststroke.
The first opportunity for someone to win gold using the stroke came in the women's 200m breaststroke final. This was a great era for Hungarian breaststrokers and the country had three swimmers in the final.
World record holder and favourite Éva Novák used the orthodox stroke, while her strongest challenger, Éva Székely, used butterfly. Four years earlier the two had come third and fourth respectively in the final, but the intervening years had seen both swimmers make great strides.
The third Hungarian in the final was Klára Killermann, and there were real hopes of a clean sweep of the medals.
In the end, the anticipated close-fought contest between the two Évas failed to transpire. Instead, Székely beat her rival by a comfortable 2.7 seconds to take gold. Meanwhile Great Britain's Elenor Gordon finished a fraction ahead of Killermann to deny Hungary its clean sweep.
Székely went on to become the matriarch of a great Hungarian sporting family. Her husband was Hungarian water polo player Dezső Gyamarti, who himself went on to win three golds. Blessed with strong aquatic genes, their daughter Andrea won a silver and bronze medal in the pool at Munich 1972, and married canoeist Mihály Hesz, who won Olympic silver and gold at Tokyo 1964 and Mexico City 1968.