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Israeli Swimming Champions

We made Aliyah from Cape Town in August of 2016 and pretty much immediately started our two oldest girls at the Bnei Herzliya swimming club.  Neither of them spoke Hebrew which resulted in much sign language and gesticulating between themselves and their coaches.  Now one and half years later, they are both fluent in Hebrew and very much a part of the scenery at the club.  They have both done amazingly well and it is refreshing to be able to have them swim in competitions as they are mostly not on Shabbat.  Which brings us to the reason for this article.  

The Israeli Swimming Championships is held over three days from the 18th to the 20th of February. All clubs from all over Israel compete.  The kids spend the entire day at the Wingate Institute in Netanya competing and cheering on their team mates.  There is the smell of the chlorine in the air and it is as hot as hell so that the kids don't get cold inbetween races.  Last year our oldest, Eva,  just barely made the qualifying time and got to compete.  It was a real eye opener and a wonderful experience to see Jews from all over competing.  Russians, French, Americans and a few South Africans but mostly Israelis.  This year she qualified for a few more events and won her first ever medal placing third in the 100m backstroke.  I have never seen such a huge smile as she walked back up the stairs to greet her amazing coach and myself.  

Who would have thought that this would be the outcome a year and a half ago!  The first time we drove to the training pool,  we got lost and could not get waze to work! It took us about 1 hour to navigate 10 kilometers.  The entire family did not speak Hebrew.  We knew no-one and not a soul knew us.  Now the entire club knows who we are and our family background.  We try and fly the flag proudly for South Africa but are equally proud to be counted as Israelis.  Israel is really trying to improve their performance in swimming and let's hold thumbs for the next Olympics.  We eagerly await a few more South Africans to boost our numbers. 

Hilton, Petra, Eva, Izzy, Giulia and Chen Datnow

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