After claiming an unprecedented five medals at the previous European Swimming Championships two years ago, the Israeli delegation will return home empty handed from this year’s edition of the event in Berlin.
Even though Israel’s swimmers faced a weakened field at the championships two years ago in Debrecen, Hungary, as many of the continent’s best were preparing for the London Olympics, national team coach Leonid Kaufman still insisted that he expects to win one or two medals in Berlin.
However, not only did Israel’s swimmers fail to take a medal, but they also only made three finals in total, far fewer than anticipated.
The 20-year-old David Gamburg showed plenty of promise by surprisingly reaching the final of the 100-meter backstroke, even though he ended it in the eighth and final place. Gamburg was also part of the 4x100m freestyle relay team with Tom Kremer, Nimrod Shapira and (Alexi) Konovalov which broke the Israeli record twice on the way to a sixth-place finish in the final.
However, after the success of the first day, only Guy Barnea went on to qualify for another final, although the fact that he only finished the 50m back in fifth place, coming within five hundredths of a second of the podium, was regarded as a disappointment considering he had won a medal in the event in the two previous championships.
At least he came close to emulating his previous success, which can’t be said about Jonatan Kopelev, who became the first Israeli to claim a gold medal at the championships in the 50m back two years ago but failed to even advance to the final this year.
Yakov Toumarkin also had a championships to forget, coming up short in his attempt to reach the final in both the 100m and 200m back after taking bronze medals in both events two years ago.
However, Amit Ivri was surely Israel’s most frustrated swimmer in Berlin after coming tantalizingly close to qualifying for five different finals, only to come up just short time and again.
Ivri missed out on a berth in the 100m breaststroke final by five hundredths of a second, came within eight hundredths of the 50m butterfly final, failed to reach both the 100m butterfly and 50m breaststroke final by 11 hundredths and was 1.07 seconds away from a place in the top eight in the 200m individual medley.
On Sunday, Gal Nevo ended the 400m IM in 10th place in a time of 4:20.23, while Israel’s 4x100m medley team of Gamburg, Yaron Shagalov, Tom Kremer and Konovalov finished in 11th place in a time of 3:40.72m.