Eithan Urbach

Eithan Urbach

Eithan Urbach (born January 12, 1977 in Haifa) is a former backstroke swimmer from Israel, who is considered to be one of the greatest swimmers in Israel's history. Urbach competed in two Summer Olympics and was a member of Maccabi Haifa.

Swimming career

Urbach first attracted international attention in 1994, when he was ranked # 81 in the world in the 200m backstroke (2:04.41) at the age of 17. He helped the Israeli 4x100m medley relay team finish in 6th place at the 1995 European Championships in Vienna.

In the fall of 1996, he began swimming at Auburn University, and the following spring, he finished 8th in the 200m backstroke at the NCAA Championship.

In 1997, Urbach won the silver medal in the 100m backstroke (55.88) at the European Championships in Seville, Spain, and shared Israel's Sportsman of the Year award with fellow swimmer, and Auburn alumnus, Yoav Bruck.

Urbach continued his success in 1998, finishing 7th in the 100-meter backstroke (55.96) at the 1998 World Aquatics Championships in Perth, Western Australia.

He won the bronze in the same event (55.87) at the European LC Championships 1999 in Istanbul, Turkey.

He was also a member of the 4x100-meter medley (3:43.48) team which placed 8th at the 2000 European Championships.

At the 2001 World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, Urbach competed in the 50m and 100m backstroke events; he finished 26th in the preliminaries of the 50m and 16th in the 100m, and did not advance to the semifinals in either event.


At the age of 18, Urbach participated in the 1996 Summer Olympics, and swam in two events. In the 100m backstroke, he finished first in his preliminary heat (56.74), but did not advance to the finals (he missed qualifying for the consolation final by 0.39 seconds). Urbach finished 22nd in the competition.

In Atlanta, Urbach was also a member of Israel's 4x100m medley relay team – alongside breaststroker Vadim Alexeev, freestyler Yoav Bruck, and butterfly specialist Dan Kutler – which reached the finals after finishing 4th in their preliminary heat (3:42.24). It was the first time an Israeli swimming team had made an Olympic final, and they finished 8th overall with a time of 3:42.90.

At the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Urbach became the first Israeli swimmer to qualify for the finals in an individual event. In the semifinals of the 100m backstroke, he set an Israeli record with a time of 55.31, and qualified for the finals; he finished in 8th place with a time of 55.74. Urbach also helped break the national record in the 4x100m freestyle relay (3:22.06), finishing in 14th place, and was a member of the 4x100m medley relay (3:43.39), which finished 5th in the preliminary heat, and 17th overall.


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