The Israeli delegation got the European Swimming Championships off to a promising start in Berlin on Monday, with the blue-and-white’s 4x100-meter freestyle relay team finishing its final in sixth place in the first day of action.

David Gamburg, Tom Kremer, Nimrod Shapira and Liran “Alexi” Konovalov broke the Israeli record twice on Monday, clocking a time of 3:18.43 minutes in the final, an improvement of 52 hundredths of a second to the time they recorded in the heats.

Just an hour earlier, Gamburg booked his place in Tuesday’s 100m backstroke final, advancing from sixth place overall with a new personal best of 54.76s in the semis.

The 20-year-old only barely reached the semifinals, ending the morning heats in 17th place (55.53s) and progressing only because Niccolo Bonacchi, who clocked the 15th fastest time, was denied a place in the semis as he was only the third fastest Italian. Each country can only send two swimmers to the semifinals.

“To be honest, I didn’t really expect to make the final,” said Gamburg. “But this shows that hard work pays off. This will be my first final but I hope it won’t be my last. The relay was an amazing experience. We showed we have a bright future.”

Amit Ivri missed out on a place in the women’s 50m butterfly final by eight hundredths of a second on Monday. Ivri clocked a time of 26.39s in the semis and will be the first reserve in Tuesday’s final. She beat Italian Elena Gemo in a swim-off, setting a new Israeli record of 26.13s after the two had ended the semis in an identical time.

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