Jewish swimmers prove they belong at nationals

20-year-old Benno Negri won gold and silver age division medals at the Australian Swimming Championships last week.

“THIS was my 17th consecutive nationals [appearance] – I feel honoured … and at 32, it never gets old,” said North Sydney swimmer and Paralympian Matthew Levy, after competing in the 2019 Australian Swimming Championships in Adelaide last week.

Veteran Paralympic swimmer Matthew Levy added another medal to his Australian Swimming Championships career tally last week in Adelaide.

Levy competed in four men’s multi-class finals at last week’s Australian Swimming Championships in Adelaide – his best result being third in the 400 freestyle in a time of 4:49.78, earning him a place in the Australian team for what will be his sixth World Para Swimming Championships, in London in September. “Exciting times ahead,” he said.

The nationals were also an eye-opener to the current depth of emerging Jewish swimming talent, with impressive performances by six athletes aged between 17 and 21 proving that, they too, belong at this elite level.

Melbourne Vicentre Swim Club’s Benno Negri, 20, led the way by winning gold in the 20-21 age group final of the men’s 100 free, posting a PB of 49.57 seconds, under the qualifying time for the 2019 World University Games.

In the men’s 50 free final, the tall Melburnian made another C (20-21) final, this time earning silver (23.08 seconds) to finish 18th overall.

Not done with PBs yet, Negri nailed two in a row in the men’s 200 free, first in the heats (1:49.86), and then in the A final (1:49.21) won by 2016 Olympic Games gold medallist Kyle Chalmers, to finish 6th overall – an incredible achievement and another sub-World University Games qualifying time.

Ashley Weill

Northcote rep Ashley Weill, 17, was in superb form, winning bronze medals in the 17-18 age division finals of the women’s 100 backstroke (1:03.91) and 200 backstroke (2:15.82), earning a PB in the latter. She also set a PB in the 50 backstroke 17-18 final, coming 5th.

Fellow Melburnian, MLC Swim club member Isabella Smorgon, secured a PB of 2:38.95 to come 6th in the 19-20 age final of the women’s 200 breaststroke.

Representing Sydney’s Macquarie University Swim Club, Zac Freuden, 21, qualified for the C final in the men’s 200 butterfly and then shaved almost 1.4 seconds off his seed time to touch the wall in 2:07.38 to win a bronze medal in the 20-21 age division.

“I felt really good in the lead-up, and was able to follow my race plan of staying smooth and hardly taking a breath in the first 100, then building up the pace in the next 50 and going really hard in the last 50,” Freuden said.

“I worked hard with my coach (Cameron Ellicott), so achieving a PB was not unexpected, but doing it at the nationals was special, and I definitely celebrated afterwards.

“It’s not hard to get motivated because I just enjoy swimming – sometimes it feels like I was born in water.”

Ariella Levy (left) with her KRB Aquatics teammate Lucy Jones.

Sydney’s Ariella Levy set a PB of 1:13.80 in the women’s 100 breaststroke C final to finish 6th in the 19-20 age division and 22nd overall, and she also achieved those placings in the women’s 50 breaststroke C Final.

The talented 19-year-old, who trains eight times per week at KRB Aquatics, said her coach Hamid Mobarrez spoke to her about trusting her processes.

“He said by putting the hard work in, the results will follow, and it was amazing I was able to do this at the nationals, among many past and future Olympians, and seeing where I placed in comparison,” Levy said.

Knox-Pymble (Sydney) swimmer Maya Murphy, 17, recorded a PB of 26.99 in the heats of the women’s 50 free to finish 39th, she came 29th in the 50 backstroke (30.83), and 39th in the 100 backstroke (1:06.11).

SHANE DESIATNIK