Katalin Szoke Domyan (HUN)
Honor Swimmer (1985)
FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 1952 gold (100m freestyle; 1 relay); WORLD RECORDS: 4 (Relays); EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: 1954 gold (100m freestyle, relay).
In addition to her participation in two Olympics, Katalin won two European Championships in 1954 and set four World Records. She was also Hungarian National Champion several times. Her club coaches were Hall of Famers Imre Sarosi (coached Katalin ages 9-11) and Steffen Hunyadfi (remainder of her career). Hers was the fast lane of many fast lanes in the world-dominant Hungarian women’s team of the early 1950s.
Katherine Szoke Domyan, Kati, as she was known to her friends, was born in Budapest, Hungary to two-time Olympic Champion Water Polo player, Marton Homonnai, and Hungarian Swimming Champion, Katalin Szoke, she started swimming at the early age of 6 months. After her parents divorced when she was three years old, she took her mother’s maiden name and became known worldwide as Szoke Kato.
Kati followed in her parent’s footsteps and started competing in swimming at the age of six. By age twelve, she was one of Hungary’s premier freestyle swimmers. At the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games, Kati gained worldwide recognition for winning gold medals in the 100-meter freestyle and the 4×100 meter freestyle relay in world record time. Two years later, at the 1954 European Championships, she repeated her Olympic accomplishments by winning the same two events.
In 1956, after participating in the Melbourne Olympic Games, she along with 42 Hungarian Olympic Athletes, asked for political asylum from the United States. Because the immigration quota in effect at the time had been filled, the Hungarian athletes were stranded in Melbourne, Australia until Sports Illustrated Magazine picked up the story. With a special invitation from President Eisenhauer, all 42 athletes were granted political asylum in the United States.
In 1957, Kati settled in Los Angeles with Arpad Domyan. The two were wed in 1961. Together they achieved the American dream as they built a successful real estate development company and were active members of the West Los Angeles community. Katherine was a member of ANTA (American National Theatre Association), the Blue Ribbon 400, LA Opera and other charitable organizations. Their only child, Bryan, was born in 1971. In 1985, Kati was inducted to the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The Swimming Hall of Fame honored her and her three teammates as the relay team of the century.
She passed away on October 27, 2017.