An invaluable learning experience for Bar-Or

Page from Aloon Sinai's Beijing diary.

It may sound strange, but Max Jaben's positive drug test could well prove to be one of the best things to ever happen to Israeli swimming. Had the American born swimmer not failed the test given to him in April he, and not Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or, would have represented Israel at the 200 meters freestyle in Beijing. Not only did Bar-Or smash his Israeli record and against all odds reach the semifinals in the 200m free, but just as importantly he has also received a priceless learning experience in Beijing. Earmarked long ago as the future star of Israeli swimming, the 19-year-old's target Olympics were always the 2012 Games and now he will be entering them in a much better position thanks to his success in China. Even his failure to match his record-breaking heat time in Monday's semi will benefit Nimrod, teaching him how to avoid such an occurrence in four years and how to peak on subsequent days on the biggest stage in the world. Had the Olympic Committee of Israel High Court not intervened and ordered that Bar-Or be included in the delegation, the swimmer's performance in London 2012 could well have suffered due to the unique competitive environment of the Olympics. The pressure and the atmosphere of the Games have put off many world greats, but Bar-Or will now know exactly what to expect in the next Olympics. Jaben's doping case was undoubtedly one of the saddest stories in Israeli sport this year, but it has given us the chance to see the bright future that lay ahead of swimming in this country and to start dreaming of bigger and better things for 2012.