Strokes of Success

Early success was not something second-year swimmer Marton Keri said he expected when he started competing with SUNY New Paltz’s Men’s Swim team for the 2012-13 season. However, that’s been the case for the Hungary native.

Competing with the Hawks for only a year, Keri has already been named both SUNYAC Men’s Swimmer of the Week and New Paltz’s Men’s Athlete of the Week for two consecutive weeks.

“I didn’t expect this [success] and this is very good,” Keri said. “It’s a good feeling…but I know I have to improve a lot and I know I’m still not perfect. There’s still a lot of work I need to do.”

Keri, who is studying at New Paltz for the 2012-13 academic year, hails from Budapest, Hungary, and studies at University of Dundee in Scotland. He applied for the exchange program to New Paltz in the spring of last year and said he was immediately interested in swimming with the team.

Keri contacted Head Coach Scott Whitbeck once he was accepted into the program and said there were mutual feelings concerning his participation on the team.

“I sent him my times and he wrote me back and he was very happy,” Keri said. “From there we just started to talk with one another and it got me excited about being a part of the team.”

Whitbeck described Keri as not only a quick swimmer, but as a competitor who has also been quick to adjust to competing in the United States.

“He developed very quickly when he came here,” Whitbeck said. “He’s a very fast swimmer who has a great work ethic.”

Keri competes in the 100 backstroke and breaststroke races, with times of 57.44 and 1:01.48 as his best, respectively. Keri also competes in the 200 breaststroke (2:15.75), 200 IM (2:04.26) and 400 IM (4:32:77), along with the 200 and 400 medley relays and the 400 free relay.

Keri has been swimming since he was 3 years old and has grown up with sports playing a large role in his life. Growing up in a family of athletes, his father competed in pentathlons and his mother played volleyball. He has a brother who swims as well.

Participating in his first swim meet when he was nine years old, he attributes his success and growth as a swimmer to both Whitbeck and his coach back in Dundee.

“In Scotland, I had a very good coach and I swam with one of her sons,” Keri said. “She is a great coach…The team and swimming here are a little better and my times show that I’m dropping off seconds from my races and I think that may be because [Scott] is a very good coach. We have a really good relationship here and we understand each other and I think this is why I’m getting better.”

Keri said adjusting from swimming in Europe to swimming in the States has also made him a better athlete, and that the more competitive atmosphere has made him more determined to succeed.

“I think the team here is a little better than the team back in Scotland and in Hungary,” Keri said. “This is very good for me because I have to compete in training too and not just swim meets.”

Whitbeck said he sees Keri as a “fierce competitor” who has the potential to compete at a level beyond the SUNYACs.

“He believes he can win any race he competes in,” Whitbeck said. “He does everything the right way and I think he could post times at SUNYACs that would qualify him for higher levels of competition.”