Swimming: Nevo, Jaben secure Olympics berths

Laure Manaudou of France, the Olympic champion in the 400 freestyle, wins her eighth career European title.

Gal Nevo  (photo credit: )
Gal Nevo
(photo credit: )
Gal Nevo and Max Jaben booked their place at the Beijing Olympics after finishing in the top 12 of their swimming finals at the European Championships on Wednesday. Nevo broke the Israeli record in the 200 meters Individual Medley, clocking a time of 2:02.43 minutes to finish in 10th position overall. The unheralded Jaben finished the 200m freestyle in 11th position in an Israeli record time of 1:49.48m. The previous record owner, Shay Livnat, touched the wall after 1:49.69m, which was only good enough for 15th place. Guy Barnea and Amit Ivri disappointed in the finals of the 100m backstroke and 50m butterfly on Wednesday, both finishing in seventh position. Barnea completed the 100m backstroke in 55.34 seconds, 44 hundredths of a second slower than the Israeli record he set on Tuesday. Ivri finished in 27.19s in the women's 50m butterfly, 57 hundredths slower than her time on Tuesday. Anya Gostomelsky and Meir Hasbani both ended their events on Wednesday in the heartbreaking 13th position. Gostomelsky, who is still hoping to meet the Olympic criteria in the remainder of the championships, clocked a time of 56.11s in the 100m freestyle, while Hasbani finished the 200m I.M in 2:03.34m. In the morning session, 15-year-old Yuliya Banach set a new Israeli record in the 100m breaststroke, finishing in a time of 1:11.13m (21st place). Anastasia Korotkov ended the same event in 24th position in a time of 1:11.35m. Meanwhile, Milorad Cavic and Alexander Dale Oen set continental records Wednesday at the European swimming championships. Cavic won the 50-meter butterfly title and Oen won the 100m breaststroke. Laure Manaudou of France, the Olympic champion in the 400 freestyle, won her eighth career European title and first this year in the 200 backstroke, finishing well clear in 2 minutes, 7.99 seconds. "I surprised myself by this time," Manaudou said. Anastasia Zueva of Russia was second in 2:09.59 and Nikolett Szepesi of Hungary was third in 2:09.90. Cavic broke the butterfly record for the second time in two days and then said he could have threatened the world record if his finish had been better. The Serbian swimmer, who was born and lives in the United States, finished in 23.11 to beat defending champion Sergiy Breus of Ukraine, who was second in 23.48. Rafael Munoz Perez of Spain was third in 23.60. "A fantastic time, but I could have been even faster, perhaps set a new world record," Cavic said. "The touch was not right, I had to stretch too far." Roland Schoeman of South Africa set the world record of 22.96 in Montreal in 2005. Oen won the 100 breaststroke in European record time of 59.76, beating the previous mark of 59.94 set in 2001 by Roman Sloudnov of Russia. "I feel awesome looking at the scoreboard and seeing a time below a minute and a European record," Oen said. "It's a fantastic feeling being the fourth swimmer crashing the minute barrier." The Norwegian edged Hugues Duboscq for the title by two hundredths of a second. The Frenchman's time of 59.78 made him only the fifth person in an elite club of swimmers to complete the race in less than 1 minute. Oleg Lisogor of Ukraine was third in 1:00.53. Markus Rogan of Austria won the men's 100 backstroke in 54.03, powering down the second lap to overtake Aristeidis Grigoriadis, who qualified fastest and turned first but faded to finish second in 54.27. Defending champion Arkady Vyatchanin was third in 54.45. "I'm still lacking the starting speed, that's why I turned only in eighth position," Rogan said. "My race certainly wasn't technically perfect." Chantal Groot led a Dutch 1-2 in the 50 butterfly, finishing in 26.03 to edge teammate Inge Dekker. Sviatlana Khakhlova of Belarus was third in 26.52 and defending champion and world record holder Therese Alshammar of Sweden finished fourth in 26.69. In the morning session, three-time Olympic champion Pieter van den Hoogenband was eliminated from the 200 freestyle in the heats and his national coach said illness could keep him out of the rest of the event. Van den Hoogenband won the 200 freestyle at the Sydney Games and he is a two-time Olympic winner over 100 meters, but he came into this year's Europeans saying he was only 80 percent fit as he builds toward his final Olympics in Beijing. He said after Wednesday's heats he had been feeling nauseous and even considered pulling out before his race. Netherlands coach Jacco Verhaeren said the race was "one of Pieter's worst I ever saw," and added that Van den Hoogenband will not swim again unless he is fit. "Until he is completely better, he stays out of the water," Verhaeren said. In the diving competition, Illya Kvasha took gold in the 1-meter springboard with 454.65 points for his first major diving title. The Ukrainian beat defending champion Joona Puhakka of Finland. Christopher Sacchin of Italy was third, repeating his placing at last year's world championships. "I am overjoyed," Kvasha said. "Unfortunately, the 1-meter springboard is not an Olympic competition. I am aiming to qualify for the 3-meter springboard final in Beijing."