Israel claims 1st medal on opening day in Netanya

Toumarkin wins silver in 200m back to give delegation flying start to short course championships.

Israel’s Yakov Toumarkin registered his best result to date at the world championships on Monday (photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel’s Yakov Toumarkin registered his best result to date at the world championships on Monday
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Yakov Toumarkin ensured the Israel delegation got the European Short Course Swimming Championships at the Wingate Institute in Netanya off to a dream start on Wednesday, claiming a silver medal in the 200-meter backstroke final.
The 23-year-old clocked a new Israeli record time of 1:49.84 minutes, finishing 1.51 seconds behind winner Radoslaw Kawecki of Poland.
Toumarkin, who has two medals to his name from the long course continental championships in 2012, scaled the podium at the short course event for the first time in his career to the delight of the local fans.
“It still hasn’t sunk in,” said a stunned Toumarkin, who was responsible for two of the seven Israel national records set on Wednesday. “I was in shock when I saw my result. I broke the national record I set in the morning heats and also went under 1:50.00m which was my goal. As soon as I heard the fans that gave me an additional push and the extra motivation that I needed at the end.”
For the first time ever, a swimming world record was set in Israel on Wednesday courtesy of Hungarian phenom Katinka Hosszu. The 26-year-old world champion set a new all-time best in the 400m individual medley heats in the morning, clocking a time of 4:19.46 minutes. She came up just short on improving it once more in the final, but still easily won the gold medal in a time of 4:19.75m.
“Breaking a world record is always amazing and hard,” said Hosszu, who has signed up for 11 events at the championships.
“I’m happy I won one gold medal already and already broke a world record. Even if nothing else happens in this meet I’m already happy.”
Hosszu wasn’t worried about the security situation in Israel.
“We did talk about it but once I got here I felt comfortable and I know we have a lot of security guards and I feel safe here,” said Hosszu.
Toumarkin and David Gamburg, who ended the 200m back final in seventh, weren’t the only Israelis to reach a final on Wednesday, withAmit Ivri ending the women’s 50m breaststroke final in eighth place in a time of 30.56s.“This is only the beginning and my stronger events are coming up,” said Ivri.
Israel also sent a team to the 4X50m freestyle final, with Ziv Kalontarov, Gleb Ionichev, Yahav Shahaff and Or Sabatier finishing in eighth with a time of 1:26.99m.
Also Wednesday, Guy Barnea clocked a new national record of 51.36s on the way to 12th place in the 100m butterfly.
“I’m really pleased,” said Barnea.
“This was a good preparation for my main events. I broke a record I set in 2014 which I hadn’t managed to come close to since, so I’m really happy. My goal is to be my fastest ever in this event. So far, so good.”
In addition to Israel’s elite swimmers, many of the countries rising stars are also participating in the championships.
Israel has the biggest delegation in the event, sending 46 swimmers, with many of them making their debuts in a major competition.
One of those is 19-year-old Gil Kiesler, who ended the 400m freestyle in 14th place on Wednesday, setting a new Israel record of 3:44.59m.
“I expected to break the record,” said Kiesler. “I thought I was capable of reaching the final but I’m pleased with what I achieved. This is my first major championship and it felt a little different from the competitions I usually compete in. But swimming is swimming and I focused on myself.”