A member of the Israeli swimming team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Gath competed in the 200-meter backstroke. He advanced to the semifinals after posting the 13th fastest time in the preliminaries (2:00.80). In his semifinal heat, he finished in 2:03.80, and did not advance to the finals; Gath finished in 16th place overall.
On the advice of his father, Yoav took up swimming to cure his asthma. A backstroke specialist, he quickly became one of Israel's top young swimmers. In 1995, at the age of 15, Gath won the gold medal in the 200-meter backstroke at the Euro Youth Olympic Days; he said before the Olympics, that this was his most memorable achievement. The following year, he won the silver medal in the 200-meter backstroke (2:04.74) at the European Junior Championships. In 1997, he continued his rise among Israeli swimmers by winning the gold medal, and breaking the meet record, in the 200-meter backstroke at the Maccabiah Games. He was the Israeli national champion in the 200-meter back in 1998.
In 1998-99, Gath arrived in the United States to compete for the University of Georgia. That year, he finished 10th in the 100-yard backstroke and 13th in the 200-yard backstroke at the SEC Championships; as a team, Georgia finished in third place. At the NCAA Championships, he set the Georgia record in the 200-yard backstroke in the preliminaries with a time of 1:42.71. In the Finals, Gath finished fifth in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 1:42.95 (teammate Marc Lindsay finished third and reclaimed the Georgia record with a time of 1:42.62). Yoav's fifth place showing earned him All-America honors, and he was also named NCAA Academic All-America. During the 1999-00 season, he broke the Georgia record in the 200-meter backstroke with a time of 1:56.02.
Gath has also continued to compete and excell internationally. At the 1999 European Championships, he finished in fourth place in the 200-meter backstroke (2:00.72). At the European Swimming Championships the following year,
Gath won the bronze medal in the 200-meter backstroke, setting the Israeli national record (2:00.02) in the process. On July 26, 2001, at the World Championships, Gath broke his own National record in the 200-meter backstroke when he raced to a time of 1:59.39 in the semifinals. The following day, Yoav swam in the final of the 200-meter backstroke and finished eighth with a time of 2:00.09.
At the 2002 World Championships, Gath finished in sixth place in the 200-meter backstroke. At the 2003 Worlds, he competed in the 100-meter backstroke and finished 15th overall after reaching the semifinals. He also swam in the 200-meter backstroke and also reached the semifinals. He finished 10th overall, however, and missed advancing to the finals by .20 seconds (he had a time of 1:59.22). Yoav's final event at the competition was the 50-meter backstroke in which he finished 34th with a time of 26.64.
Birth and Death Dates:
b. Nov. 8, 1980
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