It seemed like a replay from the Beijing Olympic qualifiers for the men's 100 meter breaststroke. At the 2009 Swimming World Championships in Rome, Iranian swimmer Mohammad Alirezaei's refused to get in the water to race in the same heat as Israeli competitor Mickey Malul. Alirezaei declined Tuesday to be present poolside during the men's 50 meter breaststroke event.
Miki Malul in the pool. Falls short of semi-finals (Photo: Reuters)
This comes only one day after Israeli Itai Chammah swam the 100 meter backstroke alongside 17-year-old Iraqi swimmer, Saif Alaslam Saeed al-Saadi. Reportedly, al-Saadi was not aware he would be competing in the same heat as the Israeli because of Chammah's late registration.
This is not the first time the Iranian swimmer has refused to get in the water with an Israeli competitor. In the 2008 Olympics, Alirezaei withdrew from the men's 100 meter breaststroke against Israel's Tom Beeri, who finished 4th, leaving his lane empty during the heat.
Israeli performance at the worlds has been thus far underwhelming. After Guy Barnea and Nimord Shapira Bar-Or's disappointing performance Monday when they failed to advance to the semi-finals, Malul, a contender expected to advance to Tuesday's rounds, also fell short of his target.
Alon Mendel. Ranks 43rd (Photo: Reuters)
Despite high hopes for him, Malul was far from his Israeli-record-holding time, making a time of 27.60 seconds in the men's 50 meter breaststroke qualifiers, ranking him 24th overall. This put him back 17 hundredths of a second from advancing to the semi-finals. Malul advanced to the finals where he finished 6th in the 2007 World Championships in Melbourne.
Alon Mendel also disappointed in the 200 meter butterfly race, ranking 43rd with a time of 2 minutes 1.79.
Gal Nevo regained his record-holding spot in the men's 200 meter butterfly, but fell short of qualifying for the Tuesday night's semi-finals. Nevo finished in 1 minute 57.02, setting a new Israeli record. His time, however, left him 27 hundredths of a second from advancing. He ranked 19th overall.
Reason to smile. Nevo regains Israeli record in men's 200 meter butterfly (Photo: Miki Sagi)
Nevo had previously set the Israeli record in men's 200 meter butterfly, only to see it broken by Nimrod Hayet, who took home the silver in European Junior Championships. After Monday's swim, he has recovered the title of Israeli record-holder in 200 meter butterfly.
This year's worlds have seen records being broken right and left, in no small part because of new polyurethane bodysuits being worn by the swimmer athletes. The status of these records has yet to be determined. It is clear, however, that the high-tech suits have failed pushed the Israeli team ahead or give them an advantage.
FINA, the international oversight group of world swimming, has banned the suits started in 2010 with a return to traditional cloth suits