The 41st annual Lake Balaton Cross Swimming took place on Sunday, 23 July. It was originally scheduled for the day before, however, it had to be moved due to bad weather conditions. Still, the event could boast over 10,000 attendees, as per the reporting on its official website.
Out of the 10,000 swimmers, 9,500 actually made it through the 5.2 kilometres (3.2 miles) to be covered in water.
Among them was none other than Katalin Novák, President of the Republic of Hungary.
The Head of State jumped into Lake Balaton at the Révfülöp beach along with the other attendees, in a one-piece bathing suit donning the Hungarian red-white-green national colours. She was accompanied by her husband—as well as two agents from the Counter Terrorism Centre (TEK), tasked to protect the President at all costs, which included crossing Lake Balaton this time.
It was Hungarian tabloid daily Blikk which first took notice of a man and a woman constantly shadowing President Novák. When Blikk reached out for comment, TEK confirmed that the two individuals were in fact their agents, serving in the protective detail of the President.
‘It is mandated by law that the President is entitled to personal protection for both official and personal programmes. This is in line with international standards, as the Head of State in any country is a protected person. For the protection of her life and physical well-being, the President is entitled to personal protection 24 hours a day…and [the protection] extents to her trips abroad as well’, the counterterrorism force wrote in their official reply.
Thankfully, President Novák safely made it to the other shore of Lake Balaton. She got out of the water in Balatonboglár, where she took to a nearby canteen to have the traditional Hungarian beach food, the famous flatbread lángos.
The President said that the event is ‘simultaneously about athletic performance, community, belonging together, and our homeland; as well as about Lake Balaton, “the Hungarian sea”—all this is manifested in the Lake Balaton Cross Swimming.’