At least in the pool, Israel is not really a nation-time nation
Even studies show that compared to the rest of the world, Israeli swimmers find it difficult to tickle their personal records at major events. Why does this happen to them? Look for the explanation in the inviting pool at the Wingate Institute, the number of young people, and the exhausting pursuit of the criterion.
The World Swimming Championships ended yesterday (Sunday) with one final meet for Jonathan Kopelev final ended with a non-Olympic (50m) back and three semi-finals - two by Jacob Toumarkin and one by Andy Moraz. The more relevant question is why among the 13 representatives who leapt to personal grills in the Budapest championship, only Moraz managed to improve her personal record, and in this case also set a national record in the World Cup, 100 Free. In general, it seems that in recent years few Israeli swimmers have been able to provide optimal performance in the summer competition, whether it is an Olympics or a World Championship. In order to address the issue, it is worthwhile to examine what the world's swimmers are doing when it comes to improving their personal record in a large competition, and whether the ability of Israelis to ascend is low compared with their overseas rivals. Christopher Bacon and Karl Peterson of Canterbury University in New Zealand recently published a study that analyzed the personal records of swimmers participating in Rio 2016. The comforting figure - only 339 swimmers out of 1,075, less than a third, set a personal record in these games. In other words, it is difficult for most swimmers to rise above the peak event and determine the outcome of their lives. Even so, it turns out that Israelis are even more difficult: Of the 24 countries sampled in the study, Israel and Austria are the only ones whose representatives were far from their personal highs of more than 2% on average. While 50% of the American swimmers set a personal record in Rio - as did 50% of the Japanese and 47% of the representatives of New Zealand, the Czech Republic and Israel (yes, we are again) are the only ones who did not put a personal record at the last Olympics. Gal Nevo, who did not compete in Budapest, is the last Israeli to enter the finals of an Olympic swim medal in the world championship, when he finished sixed in the 400 meters involved in 2009. According to him, when you review large competitions in Israel, you focus mostly on two groups - the global superstars and the Israeli representatives. "This is biased in the first place, and it will always seem to us that we are in a bad situation, because you do not measure two equal control groups here," Nevo explains. Indeed, given that no less than 81% of the gold medalists in Rio set a personal record, this is a problematic test, probably unfair for the representatives in blue and white.
In addition to the extenuating circumstances, Nevo can also point to factors that make it difficult for Israeli swimmers to excel in competitions, especially in recent years. "Leonid Kaufman (the former national coach) has always prided himself on the fact that we know how to come to a top-notch competition against all the European teams whose schedules are similar to ours," Nevo says. "He was proud that we always break more personal records, but that changed immediately and sharply. The new pool at the Wingate Institute. " According to Nevo, until the completion of the pool in 2013, Israel's swimmers simply did not have reasonable conditions in Israel to supply the goods, which made the competitions abroad easier to rise. "In the past, even if we came to the competition in Israel after a good preparation, She could not swim fast enough. Now we have one of the fastest swimming pools in the world. There are very few pools in this depth and structure, which are fixed and non-modular pools (those that build and break for specific competitions). The pool is a huge difference, because the old pool was so bad that whenever we went abroad we felt we had an 'advantage'. " Incidentally or not, the Israeli swimmers who stood out in Budapest - Toumarkin, Kopelev and Moraz - set most of their personal records at the Wingate Institute in 2015 or last year. "If you have a good pool in the country, it will be more comfortable for you to swim because it is a home environment," Nevo explains, "in large competitions, the Israelis are in the morning and that is very significant in terms of atmosphere and physiology. "It's important that you write in the article how much this morning at a world championship is different even from the evening of the Israeli championship," he emphasizes. "You get to the morning cream and you're like a moving movie. The atmosphere is only in your head, it is against any national championship, where you keep the forces for the evening and there is competition between associations, a sympathetic crowd and relatively little pressure because you swim for honor without competitors from all over the world. They make their records at home. " It is not only the pool, but also the age. According to the New Zealand study, 42 percent of swimmers aged 19 and under had a personal record in Rio, compared with 19 percent of swimmers aged 25 and over. This, too, connects well with Nevo's teachings. He points out that in recent years, Israel has not been full of young people who swam in the big tournaments, certainly not for whom it was the goal of the year. And the young people, as mentioned, are those who usually improve personal records. "At an early age, it's much easier, and not just in a competition," says Nevo. The study also mentions timing and career momentum. 44% of swimmers who set a personal record in the period between one and two years before the Olympic Games, did it again in Rio. However, when it comes to swimmers who have not improved a record in more than two years before Rio, only 20 percent of them have managed to do so at the Olympics last year. That is, if this has not happened recently, it is likely that this will not happen specifically in the competition. The swimmer, apparently, was already beyond his peak.
Another element lies in achieving the criterion for the purpose of competition. For swimmers from the top of the world, this is a task that is considered to be a fried egg, while mid-level representatives, including the Israelis, perspire to determine the required threshold score, and sometimes come from Moroccans to the event itself. "For most swimmers in the world, determining criteria is an end in itself," says Nevo, "the senior officials who compete for medals know that they are inside and are not afraid of the criterion. Than a situation where you are struggling to get it, and then within a few months you have to reach a mental and physical pic again in the competition itself. " Last year, as he prepared for his third Olympics, Nevo was already armed with the criterion he had achieved in 2015, preparing himself for the 2016 peak. In May, he won a silver medal in 200 mixed, for the first time since 2012 he broke the two-minute barrier. Rio again dropped from the two minutes, but was ranked 17th and missed 3-1 in the semi-finals. The replacement of the training and diversity program under the guidance of Ehud Segal helped Nevo, who was the only Israeli in Rio who came close to its peak. These are not just the highs. In terms of general positions, the achievements of Israeli swimming in the world arena over the past decade are not warning. If we take the beautiful results of Kopelev and Barnea in 50 backs, a non-Olympic ointment, we will remain with the Olympic finals of Toumarkin in 2012 and Nevo's sixth place eight years ago in Rome. In December of last year, when American David Marsh was presented as the new national coach top swimmer, union chairman Simon Davidson declared that he "very much hopes that at the end of this process, Israel will have a medal at the Olympic Games. We want a podium for the country in eight years. "
Given the recent achievements and the generation of young swimmers, it is not clear how realistic a scenario in which a swimmer with a Star of David on a hat will succeed in threatening a global or Olympic podium. "The progress of young people like Dennis Loktev and Daniel Namir is beautiful," Nevo concludes. "But at least in the coming years, if there is no change from the infrastructure, we are still talking more about coincidences than about systematic preparation."