By Buky Chass
TEL AVIV, Israel, March 1. NINETEEN year-old Shai Livnat emerged as the new, up-and-coming Israeli freestyle ace, as the three-day Israel Short Course Winter Championships concluded this evening.
Livnat set a national record in the 400m freestyle at 3:51.19, exactly one second ahead of veteran Miki Halika in second and well in front of 18 year-old Erez Feren (3:57.48). He followed with another pr, winning the 200m free in 1:48.93, almost four seconds ahead of Penn State-bound Ofer Finkler (1:52.85).
Livnat thus becomes the eighth Israeli swimmer to qualify for the World Championships in Barcelona in July.
The eight swimmers who will represent Israel in Barcelona are: Vered Borochovski, Anya Gostamelski, Inbal Levavi (U. of Maryland), Yoav Gath, Miki Halika, Dov Melnik, Shai Livnat, and Shilo Ayalon (Georgia Tech).
In other highlights of the three-day meet, Alexi Manzula won the 50m free in 23.32 ahead of Gilad Kaufman, 23.47, and Ofer Finkler, 23.53.
Kaufman took the 100 fly in 55.07, with Finkler following in 55.78. The result was the same in the 100 free, with Kaufman clocking 51.15 and Finkler touching in 51.51 (51.19p).
Former University of Minnesota standout Dov Melnik set a national record of 2:11.39 in winning the 200m breast. Dov's 18 year-old brother, Danny, was second in 2:16.82. Dov also won the 100 breast in 1:02.40 with Mike Malus, 19, second at 1:03.53. Malus won the 50 in 28.61, just .02 seconds off the Israeli record.
Miki Halika and Erez Feren went one-two in both the 200 fly and 400 IM. In the fly, Halika out-touched his rival, 2:00.27 to 2:00.74. The medley was not nearly so close, with Halika recording a 4:15.81 to Feren's 4:24.60.
Yoav Gath won the 100 and the 200 back in 55.10 and 1:57.03, respectively, while newcomer Eido Finberg won the 50 in 26.81.
With Vered Borochovski training in Australia, Anya Gostamelski had little difficulty in dominating the women's competition. She took the 100 fly with a respectable 1:01.41, and swept the shorter freestyle races clocking 26.33 for the 50, 56.09 for the 100 and 2:01.41 for the 200. Maya Finkler was second in the freestyle races with times of 26.40, 57.70 and 2:04.32, respectively.
Fifteen year-old sensation Orr Meltzer won the 50 and the 100 backstroke in 29.76 and 1:02.65, respectively.