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Tokyo 2020

Israel’s mixed swimming team makes finals of medley relay race

Aviv Barzelay advances to the semifinals of the women’s 200m backstroke, as Tomer Frankel falls short in the men’s 100m butterfly

Amy Spiro is a reporter and writer with The Times of Israel.

Israeli swimmers (from left) Andi Murez, Anastasia Gorbenko, Gal Cohen Groumi and Itay Goldfaden at the mixed 4x100 medley relay at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on July 29, 2021. (Simona Castrovillari/Israel Olympic Committee)
Israeli swimmers (from left) Andi Murez, Anastasia Gorbenko, Gal Cohen Groumi and Itay Goldfaden at the mixed 4x100 medley relay at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on July 29, 2021. (Simona Castrovillari/Israel Olympic Committee)

Israel made it to the finals of the first-ever Olympic mixed gender swimming event on Thursday.

Swimmers Anastasia Gorbenko, Andi Murez, Itay Goldfaden and Gal Cohen Groumi eked their way into the finals of the 4×100 meter medley relay race at the Tokyo Games. The final of the event, which will see the top eight teams compete for the three medals, is set to take place on Saturday.

It’s the second swimming final for Israel in Tokyo, and only the fourth ever for the country.

Just before the medley relay, Israeli swimmer Aviv Barzelay notched a good enough time to advance to the semifinals of the women’s 200m backstroke, which will be held on Friday morning.

Meanwhile, Tomer Frankel missed out on advancing to the semifinals in the men’s 100m butterfly — an event Groumi Cohen skipped in order to focus on the mixed medley relay.

The Israeli swimming achievements come after a disappointing day in the water on Wednesday, where Gorbenko finished last in her heat in the women’s 200m breaststroke, as did Murez in the women’s 100m freestyle. Despite Murez setting a new Israeli record in the race, neither made it to the semifinals.

Israeli swimmer Aviv Barzelay competes in the women’s 200m backstroke at the Tokyo Olympics on July 29, 2021. (Simona Castrovillari/Israel Olympic Committee)

Earlier this week, Gorbenko made it to the finals of the 100m backstroke — the first finals ever for an Israeli female swimmer.

“It was my first finals appearance, and I’m happy I was close to my record despite the intense pressure,” Gorbenko told reporters on Tuesday. “I gave it my all and tried to improve — I didn’t succeed, but I was still close to my own personal best.”

Earlier Thursday, Israeli judoka Peter Paltchik lost a repechage round, finishing out of medal contention in the men’s 100kg category. And Israeli windsurfer Katy Spychakov took first place in two of three races on Thursday, but still ended up in overall 6th place, ahead of the final round set to take place Saturday.

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