Märtens swims to World Cup silver (

Only one Australian was faster: Lukas Märtens crawled in second place at the swimming world championships over 400 meters freestyle.

When they were planning for the swimming world championships, Lukas Märtens and his home coach Bernd Berkhahn only had to look into each other’s eyes for a moment, then the matter was scratched. According to the agreement at the beginning of the season, the native of Magdeburg should plow through water as often as possible in the title fights in Budapest. “I wanted to swim everything, and we were completely of the same opinion,” Märtens reports to “nd” about the very short strategy meeting with Berkhahn – which applies to this summer.

In the direction of the 2024 Olympics, he then wants to gradually reduce his workload. Currently, the 20-year-old is still in constant crawl mode – and redeemed a personal penalty with silver in the 400-meter freestyle on the first day of the World Cup. At the games in Tokyo, he was eliminated from all three individual starts in the preliminary heats, despite strong preliminary performance. “Making it to the final is a big leap. Major international events such as the World Cup or the European Championship are something completely different than a qualifying competition. You can’t compare that,« Märtens knew before leaving for Hungary – and hammered it out: »To call up my time there to the point, that would be a great achievement.«

His performance in the Duna Arena was so high on Saturday that he confidently circumvented the dangerous barrier, the preliminary heat, as the fourth fastest this time – and undercut this time in the final in the early evening by almost two and a half seconds. Only the Australian Elijah Winnington crawled through the pool in 3:41.22 minutes, 1.63 seconds faster than Märtens, who beamed completely exhausted about his second place – the first World Championship medal for the DSV on this route since 2011: » It’s indescribable – I’m super happy with the time.«

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His coach at the edge of the pool was also extremely happy. “It’s a victory for us,” emphasized Berkhahn proudly. And the 51-year-old, who has also held the post of national coach since January 2019, is already looking at Märtens’ next appearance on Sunday morning.

In contrast to teammate Rafael Miroslaw (retired as 26th heat), Märtens easily qualified for the semi-finals in the evening with the seventh fastest time in the 200-meter freestyle. “I got through yesterday’s race relatively well, but my legs are still heavy,” said the training partner of open water Olympic champion Florian Wellbrock, describing his physical condition.

In addition to the obviously successful build-up of form towards the first highlight of the season, Märtens’ mental strength seems to be right this time. Last August, his psyche put a big spanner in the works when he saw the Olympic rings. On the other hand, on the banks of the Danube, Märtens found a taste for the seductive scent of success right from the start.

His focus is now on the 800m freestyle, with heats scheduled for Monday morning. And in the 1500 meter freestyle, which takes place on the last two days of the World Cup. “I’m going to do the 800 and 1500 meters properly so that I might get another medal there,” announced Isabel Gose’s partner – who jumped into the water half an hour after her partner on Saturday after her fifth place over 400 meters Freistil, however, got out of the pool with a disappointed expression.

The swimmer couple, who are the same age, live together in Magdeburg, their apartment is right next to the swimming pool. This makes the distances in the strenuous everyday training routine pleasantly short – and Lukas Märtens has long since come to terms with the fact that his professional path did not lead him to another sport. “For me, there was definitely football first. That’s actually the sport I’ve always wanted to do,” said the freestyle specialist, who played for Post SV Magdeburg for a year and a half as a little boy. “But I just wasn’t good enough for football back then,” said the silver boy from Budapest – and added with a smile: “The second thing was swimming. And that’s when it struck me straight away.«

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