Israelis at Rio, Part 1: Swimming

Gal Nevo, photo credit: Official Israel Olympic Team
Gal Nevo, photo credit: Official Israel Olympic Team

Now that we’ve had a chance to get over the excitement of the Rio 2016 Olympics, it’s time to take a look back at how our Israeli delegation performed. Rio may not have been the ideal host for an Olympiad, but Israel flew to Brazil with their biggest delegation ever – 47 athletes from 17 different sports – and provided some excitement for our small country. I’m sure you all know about our medalists but I’m here to recap every performance by an Israeli at the games.


The Israeli swim team was perhaps the most disappointing team Israel sent to the games. When I look at Israeli expectations from the pool I’m not looking for semi finals and finals (not that I would mind them of course) but I do expect that they come to the games and are able to break seasonal and personal bests. Unfortunately we didn’t see that happen in Rio.

Israel’s biggest hope was Yaakov Toumarkin, who achieved the best result by an Israeli swimmer finishing 7th in the 200 backstroke final four years ago in London 2012. He was expected to make it back in to the finals and maybe try and improve on his London result. Yaakov participated in 2 events: the 100 and 200 backstroke, and in both he struggled in his turns coming in far from his Israeli record in the 100m and finishing 27th. In the 200, he made the semifinals but with a weak showing he finished in 15th, very far away from making the finals. Gal Nevo the veteran who had re-emerged in the last year was hoping he could make a semifinal in the 200 individual medley but finished 0.03 slower than the 16th place that would have led him there. In the 200 butterfly he finished 26th and in the 400 individual medley he finished 19th. Unfortunately, not very impressive at all.

Yaakov Toumarkin, photo credit: Israel Olympic Team
Yaakov Toumarkin, photo credit: Israel Olympic Team

Amit Ivri, who made the semifinals in the 100 breaststroke in London continued her unfortunate season when she wasn’t even close to advancing in any of her 3 events: the 100 breaststroke (29th-place finish), 200 breaststroke (28th) and 100 butterfly (27th). Andrea Morez, who caught a sinus infection right before the competition had to give up on 2 of her 4 individual swims and only ended competing in the 50m (35th-place finish) and 100 (37th) freestyle where she struggled.

The youngsters Ziv Kolontarov (41st in the 50 and 45th in the 100 freestyle) and Zohar Shikler (33rd in the 50 freestyle) got their first taste of the Olympic Games and hope that it will give them the experience they need to propel their careers forward.

Israel also produced its first women’s 4*100 freestyle relay team who were able to get to the Olympics on a last second technicality. The team included Ivry, Shikler, Morez and Keren Siebner, who broke the Israeli record twice this year, finished in 16th and last place but were just 2 one-hundredth’s of a second away from the Israeli record. You have to wonder if they would have broken that record when Morez was healthy.

Andrea Morez, photo credit: Israel Olympic Team
Andrea Morez, photo credit: Israel Olympic Team

Overall something needs to be done at the Israeli swimming association. The swimmers were not ready for the Olympics and the person who is responsible for it should be looking for another line of work. At times, it seems like our swimmers peak early in their careers and plateau at that point. A solution needs to be found in order to avoid another disaster like Rio. The good news is – they have 4 more years to figure it out. 

For more insights into the world of Israeli sports, follow me on Twitter: @effgoro

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Roy Friedman says:

    Not to mention that no National Record was set in the swimming pool


    1. Adam D says:

      Exactly. It was a pretty disappointing effort from the Israeli swimmers. We’ll see what happens in 4 years.


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