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Felix Obock is training again in the southern part of the city and hopes…

Felix Obock is training again in the southern part of the city and hopes…

“It's a little risky with this move, but I have to do it”: Felix Obock will complete the countdown to Paris with coach Palash Fehervari.

Former world swimming champion Felix Opock will complete his Olympic preparations in the southern part of the city under the leadership of local coach Palash Vehervari. After recent disappointing final results, the 27-year-old will be hoping to step up his game form, after which he will likely take a break for several months. Then a decision should be made about the time after that. The 27-year-old made the announcement in a press conference on Saturday at the ATUS Graz Cup.

He made the decision to return to Austria from England a few weeks ago after consulting with those close to him and OSV sporting director Walter Bahr. “I have great confidence that I will have the support I need in the southern part of the city to succeed at the Olympics,” Obock said. “My view was basically that if I wanted to swim in the Paris final, I needed to change. So I had to do it.”

Obock said he still has to plan the next 12 weeks with Fehervari. His main focus remains the 400m freestyle, although the Lower Austrian will also compete in the 200m and 800m freestyle and the 10k open water events in his third outing. Obock will live at home in the “Hotel Mama” in Bad Voslau for the next three months. “You have more support there and some things are no longer necessary.”

Swim away?

Obock sees a problem with the 400m, which is that although he can swim the first 200m, he has to invest too much and the race “gets away” from him in the first half of the race. “I had no feeling during training (in England, he noted) that this would change. “A lot of stamina has been trained. “So maybe he would have achieved a time of 3:45 or 3:46 at the Games, but to get to the final you would need 3:43 or 3:44, Obock estimates. “There is a small risk in this step, but I have to take it.”

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The decision was made on his home country and Südstadt or Fehérváry because he had confidence in Hungary and the National Swimming Federation. “I know exactly what to expect. We can start working next week and it's also important to have consistent races at a high level. That's something he's been missing recently. At the same time, training will probably be a little more intense, with more race speeds. This will also be important so that you don't lose too much energy in the first 200 metres.

In a new area

Obock said he doesn't have to venture into new territory, because he's already completed the 3:43 training period (OSV record from 2022: 3:43.58; note). “It's a step back. I know what it takes to swim. In the summer, I want to have the (personal) best time swimming so that the Games will be a success for me, and reaching the Olympic final again would be a huge success. Obock doesn't see a chance for a medal.” Except with the change that has been made now, and on the way there, he wants to get a European Championship medal in Belgrade next June.

Obock appreciates that the focus on local swimming is no longer limited to him alone. “We currently have many swimmers who are among the best in the world,” he said, addressing, among others, vice-world champion Simon Bucher and World Cup third-place finisher Martin Esperenberger. “The pressure is not limited to just one person.” His shoulder, which was still having issues at the turn of the year, is still in good shape. I still feel pain, especially when I train a lot or after competitions. But I can put his full weight and the pain is bearable. I'm pain free 90 percent of the time.

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His studies at Loughborough continue alongside his sporting activities and he is heading towards the final stage of his studies. “I have a big exam in September, so I'll be working on it in August.” Obock confirmed that he did not think much in the time that followed. “There are also a lot of special things involved.”

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