Laszlo Kiss

Hungary's swimmers are becoming global powerhouses, thanks to the talents of one man

Mark Read / Twentytwenty for TIME

Laszlo Kiss, head of the Hungarian National Swimming Team poses at Budapest’s Spartacus Swimming Club.

POOLMAN Laszlo Kiss was very disappointed when he failed to win a medal at the 1960 Rome Olympics. The 19-year-old Hungarian swimmer came up empty in the 200-m backstroke, but he got an unexpected consolation prize when U.S. gold medalist Mike Troy shared some of his training secrets with him. "I immediately saw the difference between the way Mike prepared and the way we did," says Kiss, now 67. "They trained more and harder, and the dry [land] training was very focused." For Kiss--and eventually for the world of swimming--that insight changed everything.

Three years later, Kiss quit competitive swimming to...

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