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Arena Elite Team members vie for European glory

Tolentino, 17 May 2012 – The 2012 European Swimming Championships kick off in the Hungarian city of Debrecen on Monday, 21st May, and continue until Sunday, 27th May. While a focus on training for the upcoming London Olympics is expected to affect the participation of Europe’s top swimmers, a number of defending and previous champions are still expected to take part, both to measure their progress towards the Olympics, and to strive for the prestigious medals and coveted European titles. Among them will be a number from the Elite Team of global waterwear brand, Arena.

Native Hungarian Daniel Gyurta will be going all out to defend his 200m breaststroke title, but he admits that his main sights are set on the Olympics. “Everything is focused on the Olympics, and the past four years have been organized around preparation for Olympic success. My training is going well, I’ve made some minor changes and refinements, but I don’t want to divulge too much about them.” Gyurta sees the European Championships as one of the preparation stages for the Olympics, “to provide some feedback on where I am and where I need further improvements.” But he’s nonetheless looking forward to it: “I really love the city with its splendid atmosphere, and it’s great to compete in front of my home crowd. I’d like to try and record my best time, but I have to swim great races against well-prepared and strong competition.”

Current 100m butterfly champion Sarah Sjöström of Sweden will not be defending her title, instead focusing on 50 fly, 100 free, and 4x100 freestyle relay (in which she won bronze at the 2010 Championships in Budapest). In terms of her Olympic training, she’s upbeat: “My technique is better in both freestyle and fly, I still have a few things to improve, but I'm sure I still have time!” Her aspirations for the Olympics are ambitious yet tempered with reality: “I think winning medals in 3 events is the best I can do, but of course three gold medals is the dream!”

Defending 200m and 400m IM champion Laszlo Cseh of Hungary hopes “to compete very well in front of my home crowd and be the best, and to try swimming close to my best times.” On his Olympic preparations, he says: “The Training is going well, we’re trying some new elements and improvements to be faster and stronger. I really would like to win a gold medal (in London), to beat the Americans. That will be the hardest race of my life, but I feel somehow I can be successful.”

In Debrecen Germany’s Paul Biedermann hopes “to defend my 200 freestyle title and to place in the 400 freestyle.” His Olympic preparations are going “very well”, and his hopes for London are “to swim a perfect race.”

Olympic 100m butterfly silver medallist Milorad Čavić of Serbia is typically forthright in saying that “Winning medals has always been on the top of my ‘To-Do’ list at every competition. Although I have not been training for the 50 meter butterfly, I have a feeling that I will surprise myself with a time under 23.5, I hope. I am more confident with my 100 at this point, and my goal is to swim under 52, hopefully around 51.6.” As far as his Olympic preparations are concerned, things are going well: “I am very satisfied with my current form 2.5 months out from the Olympics. In the gym I'm lifting more weight than ever and in the pool I am swimming stronger than I was before the 2008 games!” And despite his injury problems over the past few years, he’s still ambitious when it comes to the Olympics: “The ultimate goal for me would be to win an Olympic medal. After having gone through back surgery in July of 2010, it has been a long and unlikely return to the competitive world. Doctors said that I would never reach the fitness level I was once at, but I feel I have defied expectations. It would be an honour to win an Olympic medal after such an operation!”

Other Elite Team swimmers scheduled to swim in Debrecen include defending 100m freestyle champion Alain Bernard (France), and 2010 100m backstroke silver medallist Jérémy Stravius (France).