Private & champion Private & champion

Ya’acov Tomarkin Private Ya’acov Tomarkin, one of the leading swimmers in Israel and also a soldier at the S’de Dov Airforce Base, reached the semi-finals in the world championship competition in Shanghai. In the process of doing so, he also broke the Israeli record and looking forward to the 2012 London Olympics

Itay Itamar

Ya’acov, a 19-year-old from Ashdod, swam the 200-meter backstroke in the competition and improved the Israeli record by 78 milliseconds with a result of 1:58.21 minutes. He reached the semi-finals from the 11th place, with a result that promised him the ticket to the London Olympics. In the Israeli championship competition that took place two days later, Tomarkin was named the new Israeli champion.

Between one competition to another, before his daily training session or after it, Tomarkin finds time to put on his uniform and serve in an administrative squadron in S’de Dov base.

“My Commander supports me greatly and allows me to practice on a full-time basis”, admits Tomarkin, who puts in 10 practice sessions a week. “He gives me the time that I need, and realizes the importance of it to me”.

Tomarkin’s swimming career began at a pool in Ashdod at age six, and seven years later he transferred to a boarding school for the athletically gifted at the Wingate Institute. He completed his high school studies last year, and was faced with the choice whether to enlist in the military and commit to the “Outstanding Athlete” program or to defer his service and start studying at a U.S college that could jump-start his career.
“I preferred to complete my service fully just like everyone else”, explains the swimmer, who’s already looking forward to the 2016 Rio Olympics. “London is only good practice along the way, mental preparation for the future”. When asked about his feelings regarding the determined criteria for the Olympics, he says: “I was counting on it, this was my goal, and it didn’t surprise me. But it was a relief”, he admits. “I returned directly to the Israeli championships, so it still hasn’t sunk in. The fact that I’m still in a competitive state of mind leaves me tense. Perhaps when the new season begins, I’ll realize that I’m an Olympic swimmer”.

Two Swimmers, One Base
The past year marked significant progress for Tomarkin, after winning the gold medal in the 100-meter backstroke at the Youth European Championships, the bronze at the double-distance, and two more silver medals at the Youth Olympics in both heats. Last week he became the fifth Israeli to earn a spot in the Olympics, and the third and youngest swimmer to be in the Olympic delegation.

“The transition from championship competitions at the youth level to setting Olympic criteria is a significant step”, observes one of Tomarkin’s coaches at the humid Wingate Institute pool during the Israeli Championships that ended the Thursday before the last. “This boy is a tremendous talent, and there’s no doubt that he has a great chance at reaching the Olympic finals next summer”.
Another imp
ressive performance at the Israeli Championships was given by swimmer Anna Wolchikiv, who also returned from Shanhai two weeks ago. Anna is serving the IDF close by to Ya’acov, at a “Service Conditions” office at S’de Dov base.