Hungarian swim coach: Nothing beats hard work

Practice is everything, say Ivan Petrov and Olympic swimmer Zsuzsanna Jakabos

HARD WORK PAYS OFF. Coach Ivan Petrov says spending enough hours in the water practicing is fundamental

MANILA, Philippines – It is often argued that athletes are born and not made. But Hungarian Paralympic Team head coach and Olympic Coaching Committee member Ivan Petrov says becoming a world-class athlete entails an unimaginable amount of work. 

Ivan is here in the country with 24-year-old Zsuzsanna Jakabos, a compatriot who is one of the best swimmers he has trained.

They will train a school’s swimming team and give a series of inspirational talks to aspiring professional swimmers.

STAR ATHLETE. 24-year-old Zsuzsanna Jakabos has won 6 gold medals since 2005.

Ivan says he and Zsuzsanna go a long way.

“Zsu started training when she was 8,” he says. “My father [and I] trained her. He was the head coach then and now I’m the head coach.”

Ivan describes Zsuzsanna as a hardworking girl, training for about 7 hours a day after school.

Ivan recommends to parents that if they want their kids to be champion swimmers one day, training should start at the early age of 4.

This, he says, is the perfect age to start developing a child’s sense of hand-eye coordination.

“It’s very important to teach the kids how to control their body. Left hand, right hand, left foot, right foot. It sounds pretty basic but there are many high school kids who don’t know which hand is the left hand and cannot perform basic exercises.

“Sometimes I hold clinics for high school kids. It’s insane what they are doing. You wouldn’t believe. “

Ivan recommends that aspiring professional swimmers focus on these skills:

  • Buoyancy
  • Sculling
  • Kicking

Ivan warns aspiring profesionnal swimmers that excelling in the field comes with a price.

“If you don’t feel the pain during the session, if you do not feel the effort you put in it in your muscles, in your nerves, in your head, in your body, in your whole body, then it is not a training.”

Though there are lucky individuals who are born with the right bone structure and the talent needed for a particular sport, nothing beats hard work and practice, Ivan says.

As in any other sport, or endeavor, for that matter, there is no progress without sacrifice. –