US Olympian doesn't hold back, claims gold in his first final at Wingate Institute.
By ALLON SINAI
Jason Lezak claimed his first gold medal of the Maccabiah Games on Sunday, and did so in scintillating fashion.
The three-time Olympic swimming gold medalist completed the 100 meter freestyle final in 47.78 seconds, the fastest time ever recorded in Israel and one of the quickest in the world this year.
The previous Maccabiah record was 50:96 set in 2005 by American Bryan Goldberg.
Israel's Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or finished in second position on Sunday, clocking a new Israeli record time of 49.02, an excellent result just one week before he begins his participation in the World Championships in Rome.
"It's a great meet and I'm glad to be here. I'm glad to complete my first race," said Lezak, who will swim in three more events before the end of the Maccabiah swimming competition on Wednesday.
"I've raced at the World Championships so many times before and I figured that if I am ever compete in the Maccabiah this would be the time. Four years from now is too far away."
Shapira Bar-Or was honored to swim alongside Lezak.
"It is very exciting to swim against Lezak. It's a dream," he said.
"The Maccabiah is a little too close to the World Championships, but I decided to swim in the 100m free because Lezak came."
In the first race of the evening, Guy Barnea smashed his Israeli record in the 50m backstroke, touching the wall after 24.64.
Barnea's result is the second best in the world this year and he may well now be feeling he has a chance of claiming a medal at next week's worlds.
The women's 100m free was easily won by American Andrea Murez in a new Maccabiah record time of 56.44. Her countrywoman Naomi Javanifard claimed the silver, with Israeli Efrat Rotsztein finishing in third.
Itai Chama won the men's 200m backstroke in 2:02.12 minutes and is feeling optimistic ahead of next week's big event.
"This is a very encouraging result ahead of the World Championships," Chama said.
"I'm not quite ready for the worlds, so this is a good result."
The women's 200m backstroke was won by American Haley Mitchell (2:18.65m), with 100m free winner Murez coming in second.
Tom Be'eri recorded a relatively disappointing result of 2:16.94 to win the 200m breaststroke, but he was pleased with his time as his swimsuit tore just minutes before the start of the race.
"I think I set a new world record time in changing a swimsuit," Be'eri joked. "I'm fully focused on the worlds."
Daniel Malnik won the silver and Jowan Qupty finished in third to complete an all-Israeli podium.
Rebecca Lewinson of the USA won the women's 200m breaststroke in 2:40.45, with Israel's Rony Shtein and American Julie Feingold finishing in second and third respectively.
Also Sunday, the men's 200m butterfly was won by Nimrod Hayet (2:00.47), with the women's event claimed by Amit Bechar (2:17.22).
Eight more gold medals will be handed out in the swimming pool on Monday, with the day's finals coming in the 100m butterfly, 200m freestyle, 400m Individual Medley and 4x100m freestyle.
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