Ganiel shatters record books, makes strong Olympic push

20-year-old Israeli swimmer has strong showing at European Swimming Championships.

Israel swimming team (photo credit: Israel Swimming Association))
Israel swimming team
(photo credit: Israel Swimming Association))
Imri Ganiel came out of nowhere to advance to the 100-meter breaststroke European Swimming Championships final on Monday, smashing the Israeli record and making his case for an Olympic berth.
The 20-year-old was expected to set a personal best and gain experience in Debrecen, Hungary. But instead, he improved the national record by over a second in the morning heats, touching the wall after 1:00.96 minutes, before clocking a time five hundredths of a second slower in the evening semis to progress to Tuesday’s final from fourth place overall.
Ganiel’s main target on Tuesday will be to improve his new record by 17 hundredths and set the Olympic Qualifying Time required by the Olympic Committee of Israel to be part of the delegation to the London Games.
However, even should he fail to do so, Ganiel’s performance on Monday could see him go to London with a special exemption from the OCI as one of the delegation’s up-and-coming athletes.
Fellow 20-year-old Yakov Toumarkin also advanced to a final in the first day of the championships and will be gunning for a medal in the 100m backstroke on Tuesday.
Toumarkin, who has already qualified for London, equaled the national record with 54.22 seconds in the heats and progressed to the final from third place overall after clocking 54.26s in the semis.
Also Monday, Amit Ivri advanced to the 50m butterfly final from eighth position with a time of 26.68s in the semis.
There was also some disappointing news for the Israeli team on Monday, with Guy Barnea missing out on the Olympic criteria by just four hundredths of a second after finishing the 100m back in 54.44s.
Barnea only clocked 54.95s in the evening semis and will not compete in the final after finishing 10th overall.