Becca's Maccabiah Diary -- July 17, 2001

(This is the July 17th entry in Becca Schwartz's Maccabiah Games diary. Becca is a member of the US swim team competing at the 16th World Maccabiah Games,)

HAIFA, July 17.

Hello everyone,

We have found an internet cafe in Haifa that the team can do their e-mailing from. There isn't internet access at our hotel this time. We have been kept
very busy and are just getting a little time off right now.

Competition started on Sunday and the US is doing well. The swim team has already gotten several medals including two golds. Lenny set the Maccabiah record in his 100 back by quite a bit. Everyone at the meet was very excited to see him swim, and he has been signing lots of autographs and taking lots of pictures.

The environment at the meet is not the highly competitive environment that I have experienced at other big meets. I have really enjoyed getting to know my fellow competitors from countries like Mexico, Brazil, Australia, Canada, South Africa and of course Israel. I love learning about the different communities that they come from and both their Jewish and swimming backgrounds.

I feel that after this trip I will be able to travel the world and have a friendly face to greet me
whereever I may end up.

Last night we attended the Opening Ceremonies in Jerusalem. Earlier we heard talk of bombs near the stadium (see swiminfo for July 16 for story), and that made some people nervous. I'm sure
their nerves were calmed though when we got to the stadium. The security was the tightest it could be. Armed soldiers watching over us, metal detectors, and dozens of police cars on the mountains surrounding the stadium made me feel like I could relax and have fun.

First, all the countries were marched in starting with Australia, because of the tragedy that happened four
years ago at the opening ceremonies, when a bridge collapsed killing members of the Australian team. After all of the teams were seated, we heard from the
Mayor of Jerusalem as well as the Prime Minister of Israel. They both thanked all of the athletes for showing such support for our fellow Jews here in
Israel by coming here to compete. Then the festivities began. The torch was lit and the dancers took the field for a very colorful and energetic show which included lots of costumes and lots of fire works.

After the show the athletes were invited to come down to the field. Since we were done with our uniform for the opening ceremonies, we all started trading with other countries. I traded everything I had and ended up with a Russian T-shirt, a Turkish button-up shirt, a German polo shirt and an Australian hat. I looked
like a real tourist with all of that on.

Tonight are the finals of yesterday's prelims, and the US is looking to get some more swimming medals!