Éva Székely (3 April 1927 – 29 February 2020) was a Hungarian swimmer. She won the gold medal at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki and the silver medal at the 1956 Summer Olympics, set six world records, and won 44 national titles. She held the first world record in the 400 m individual medley in 1953.
|Born||3 April 1927|
Budapest, Kingdom of Hungary
|Died||29 February 2020 (aged 92)|
In 1941 Székely set a national speed record, although she was barely allowed to start because she was a Jew. As a child, she competed for a local swim team. In 1941, at 14 years of age, she was expelled from the team because she was Jewish. She was excluded from competition for the next four years, and survived the Holocaust partly because she was a famous swimmer. Towards the end of World War II, she lived with 41 people in a crowded two-room “safe-house” in Budapest run by the Swiss, and to keep in shape, every day she ran up and down five flights of stairs 100 times.
At the end of World War II she met her husband, Dezső Gyarmati, from whom she was later divorced and who in 2013 predeceased her, who was a three-time Olympic water polo champion (1952, 1956, and 1964) in water polo. Her daughter, Andrea Gyarmati, born in 1954, was a backstroke and butterfly swimmer who won two medals at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. After the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 the family defected to the US but they didn’t stay, returning to Hungary to care for Székely's parents.
She won the gold medal in the 200-meter breaststroke (setting a new Olympic record) at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, and the silver medal at the 1956 Summer Olympics. She also set six world records, and won 44 national titles. She held the first world record in the 400 m individual medley, in 1953.
After retiring from competitions Székely worked as a pharmacist and swimming coach, training her daughter among others.
In 1976 she was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. She was named as one of Hungary’s Athletes of the Nation in 2004, and received the Prima Primissima award in 2011. She was also inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
She authored three books, one of which was translated into other languages:
- Only winners are allowed to cry! (Sírni csak a győztesnek szabad!) Budapest, 1981, Magvető Kiadó
- I came, I saw, I lost? (Jöttem, láttam… Vesztettem?) Budapest, 1986, Magvető Kiadó
- I Swam It/I Survived (Megúsztam) Budapest, 1989, Sport Kiadó
- Joó, Gábor (29 February 2020). "Meghalt Székely Éva olimpiai bajnok". Index (in Hungarian). Retrieved 29 February 2020.
- Bull, Andy (3 March 2020). "Holocaust survivor to Olympic gold: the remarkable life of Eva Szekely". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
- EVA SZEKELY (HUN). ishof.org
- Jacov Sobovitz. "Eva Szekely". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 2020-03-09.
- Hall of fame - Székely Éva. sportmuzeum.hu
- "Holocaust survivor to Olympic gold: the remarkable life of Eva Szekely | Sport". The Guardian. Retrieved 2020-03-09.
- Éva Székely. sports-reference.com
- Andrews, Travis M. "Washington Post: Breaking News, World, US, DC News & Analysis". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2020-03-09.
- "Elhunyt Székely Éva olimpiai bajnok úszó". Bumm.sk. Archived from the original on February 29, 2020.