By Seth R. Baron
NETANYA, Israel, July 14. THE final day of swimming at the 17th Maccabiah Games in Israel was fantastic with outstanding performances and a lot of enthusiasm from both the U.S. and Israeli swimmers.
The USA won six of the eight events contested Thursday, setting two Maccabiah Games records. Israel won only two events but made the most of those wins as both set Games records.
The USA team showed up to finals wearing Army green Israel Defense Forces (IDF) t-shirts and IDF baseball caps – a tribute to the Israeli athletes. Daniel Madwed won the "Best Performance of the Meet" for his 200 fly performance. Maya Finkler, from Israel, was named the top female performer for her 200 free.
The meet ended on an extremely high note for the USA Team. The women's 400 meter medley relay broke an Israel streak of relay gold medals dating to the 15th Maccabiah Games in 1997. Natanya Harper, from the USA, held off Maya Finkler on the last leg of the race to give the USA women's team a .05 victory in 4:25.82.
The U.S. men's 400 meter medley relay team of Josh Hafkin (back, 58.1), Dan Velez (breast, 1:02.62), Dan Madwed (fly, 54.17) and Bryan Goldberg (free, 50.58) finished the meet with a new Maccabiah Games record, posting a time of 3:45.47.
True to his word, Goldberg earlier had won the 200 IM in 2:04.83, breaking the previous Games record that I had set some 20 years ago. Finkler swam 26.76 to set a Games record in the 50 free while teammate Olga Beresnyev breezed to an easy win with a Games record 8:52.58 in the 800 free.
The USA’s Payton Johnson won her second individual gold by taking the women’s 200 IM in 2:23.14. On the men’s side, the USA’s Dashiell Rothberg took the 50 free in 23.60 while Max Jaben bested Shilo Ayalon of Israel to win the 1500 meters by two seconds in 15:43.06.
On Friday, members of the USA team and coaching staff went to a local hospital in Netanya to visit the victims of the recent suicide bombing, near the athlete's village in Netanya. We handed out USA swimming t-shirts, pins and other USA apparel. It was truly a moving experience.
200 IM – Women
Gold: Payton Johnson – USA: 2:23.14
Silver: Inbal Levai – ISR: 2:25.09
Bronze: Sigal Simsolo – ISR: 2:27.07
5th: Lauren Fuchs – USA: 2:35.46
200 IM – Men
Gold: Bryan Goldberg – USA: 2:04.83 – New Maccabiah Record
Silver: Meir Masbani – USA: 2:07.92
Bronze: Miki Halika – ISR: 2:08.17
50 Free – Women
Gold: Maya Finkler – ISR: 26.76 – New Maccabiah Record
Silver: Payton Johnson – USA: 27.41
Bronze: Natanya Harper – USA: 27.49
6th: Sarah Goodman – USA: 28.47
50 Free – Men
Gold: Dashiell Rothberg – USA: 23.60
Silver: Ofer Finkler – ISR: 24.22
Bronze: Ehud Segal – ISR: 24.37
4th: Billy Jamerson – USA: 24.41
6th: Evan Raheauser – USA: 24.84
800 Free – Women
Gold: Olga Beresnyev – ISR: 8:52.58 – New Maccabiah Record
Silver: Chen Pauker – ISR: 9:23.97
Bronze: Andrea Lippin – USA: 9:25.80
4th: Danielle Arad – USA: 9:26.70
5th: Rebecca Smock – USA: 9:29.62
1500 Free – Men
Gold: Max Jaben – USA: 15:43.06
Silver: Shilo Ayalon – ISR: 15:45.44
Bronze: Michael Dmitriez – ISR: 15:53.75
4 x 100 Medley Relay – Women
Gold: USA: 4:25.82
(S. Goodman 108.75, R. Borden 115.19, P. Johnson 101.94, N. Harper 59.94)
Silver: Israel: 4:25.87
4 x 100 Medley Relay – Men
Gold: USA: 3:45.47 – New Maccabiah Record
(J. Hafkin 58.1. D. Velez 102.62, D. Madwed 54.17, B. Goldberg 50.58)
Silver: Israel: 3:49.79