2017 Maccabiah Games
The swimming portion of the 2017 Maccabiah Games got underway at the Wingate Institute in Netanya, Israel on Sunday, the same facility used for the 2015 Short Course European Championships. The competition is open to Jewish athletes from around the world, as well as all Israeli citizens regardless of their religion. This year’s version of the event, the 20th edition, is set to be the largest ever with other 10,000 athletes competing.
The most notable name swimming at the event is American Anthony Ervin, who won a pair of gold medals at the Olympics last summer. Ervin failed to make the U.S. World Championship team in the 50 freestyle at their trials just over a week ago, but started this meet off with a respectable showing in the 100 free.
Ervin won gold in 49.76, managing to hold off Israel’s David Gamburg who earned silver in 49.83. Gamburg’s Israeli countryman Alexi Konovalov took the bronze in 50.78.
2013 U.S. World Championship team member BJ Johnson competed in the men’s 200 breaststroke, earning the win in a time of 2:11.60. This is Johnson’s first competition since racing in one of the World Cup meets last October. He was 6th at the U.S. Olympic Trials in this event, and opted out of World Trials to focus on this event.
Recent Texas Longhorn graduate Tasija Karosas was also in action, picking up a decisive win in the women’s 200 backstroke in 2:10.88. The American also sat out of U.S. World Trials, though her time here would’ve earned a top five finish. Kelly Fertel (2:17. 62) came in for silver to make it a 1-2 for the U.S.
While the Americans had four wins on day 1, Israel had four of their own. Two-time Olympian and three-time LC European medalist Yakov Toumarkin won the men’s 200 back in 2:00.17, with teammates David Fridlander (2:04.87) and Yonatan Batsha (2:05.51) taking 2nd and 3rd for a sweep of the podium.
Fellow Israeli Andrea Murez, who has previously represented the U.S. internationally, won the women’s 100 freestyle in a time of 55.15. Murez won five gold and two silvers for the U.S. at the 2013 Maccabiah Games, and also picked up a pair of relay medals at the World University Games that year. She first represented Israel at a major championship in 2015 at the SC Europeans. She previously competed for Stanford in the NCAA.