Team Israel makes a splash in Dubai

Israel's swimming team is hoping for a good showing at the World Short-Course Swimming Championships in Dubai.

December 16, 2010 04:02
2 minute read.
israel swimming team

Israel swimming team. (photo credit: Israel Swimming Association))

Israel’s swimmers began their participation at the short-course world championships amid tight security in Dubai on Wednesday, but not without incident.

The Israeli camp was furious when it was introduced as ISR. in the opening ceremony, although later on when Guy Barnea swam in the semifinals of the 100-meter backstroke, his country’s full name was finally sounded at the arena.

Barnea finished in 14th place overall, setting an Israeli record of 51.70 seconds in the morning heats before clocking a time of 51.92 in the evening semis.

Alon Mandel also set a national record on Wednesday, touching the wall after 52.34s in the 100m butterfly heats, finishing in 30th position overall.

Gal Nevo was the first Israeli swimmer to walk out onto the pool deck, competing in the opening heat of the first event, the men’s 200-meter freestyle.

“I feel kind of lucky as an athlete being here, because the average Israeli guy probably wouldn’t visit here,” Nevo told The Associated Press after finishing 37th in the 78-man field.

Nevo said the team arrived late – just a day before the meet – because “there was some problem with the security.”

“But once we got here, everything was good. They’re taking good care of us,” Nevo said.

“We have a lot of security around us, so I’m not sure I’m going to see anything. But being able to compete is great.”

Nevo said the team has about seven or eight “visible” security agents watching it.

Last year, the United Arab Emirates – which has no diplomatic relations with Israel – refused to grant Israeli tennis player Shahar Pe’er an entry visa for the Dubai Championships, apparently because of anti-Israeli sentiment in the Gulf state.

Her exclusion from an official WTA event sparked uproar among her fellow players and earned the tournament a $300,000 fine.

However, Pe’er was permitted to enter this year’s tournament in February, and reached the semifinals despite being largely confined to her hotel room and the tennis club.

Meanwhile, Ryan Lochte’s bid for eight gold medals ended when the United States relay squad failed to even finish on the podium on the opening night of the short-course world championships on Wednesday.

Lochte enjoyed a dominant win in the 200-meter freestyle, but in the 400 free relay the US fell behind after Nathan Adrian’s dismal opening leg and Lochte had too much time to make up when he dived in for the anchor leg.

Elsewhere, China set the first swimming world record of 2010, winning the women’s 800 freestyle relay.

While world records fell by the dozens in 2008 and 2009, no marks had been set this year after rubberized bodysuits were outlawed – and there still has been no individual mark set in either the long- or short-course pool.

The quartet of Chen Qian, Tang Yi, Liu Jjing and Zhu Qianwei timed 7 minutes, 35.94 seconds, improving on the previous mark by nearly three seconds.

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