Kristof Milak breaks a record

Kristof Milak became the first man other than Michael Phelps to hold the 200-metre butterfly record since 2001 | Manan Vatsyayana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

For much of his childhood, Kristof Milak studied low-quality videotapes of Michael Phelps’s races for tips on how to refine his butterfly technique. This week, the 19-year-old Hungarian shattered the world record in the 200-metre butterfly at the World Swimming Championships in South Korea, a mark Phelps had held for more than 18 years.

“As frustrated as I am to see that record go down, I couldn’t be happier to see how he did it,” said Phelps, who won the event in three Olympics and lowered the world record seven times. “That kid’s last 100 was incredible. He put together a great 200 fly from start to finish.”

“It happened because there was a kid who wanted to do it, who dreamed of doing it, who figured out what it would take to do it, who worked on his technique until it was beautiful and who put in the really, really hard work that it takes to do it,” Phelps said in a phone interview with the New York Times. “My hat’s off to him.”

Milak trains in Budapest, where his teammates include Katinka Hosszu, who won four medals, including three golds, at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He described Hosszu as the swimmer he most admires because of her work ethic. Milak’s hair was still wet from his record swim, but he already was looking ahead.

“It’s now going to be much harder to set a new personal best,” he said.

Milak clocked a finishing time of 1 minute 50.73 seconds.

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