By Buky Chass
JERUSALEM, Oct. 15. FOR more than 44 years, Israeli swimmers have made the long overseas trip to attend American universities, where they haave sought top-notch coaching and training.
From Amiram Trauber in the late sixties, through Avraham Melamed and Co. at West Liberty State College (70s') to Yoav Bruck at Auburn University(90s') and, prsently, Shilo Ayalon at Georgia Tech, Israeli swimmers have been and continue to be an integral part of Americana academic and aathletic life at the college level.
Twenty-six Israeli swimmers at 21 universities in 14 different states are currently attending college in the U.S. and competing for their schools — from Maine in the northeast; to Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and Maryland in the east; to Georgia and Florida in the southeast; all the way to Hawaii in the very far west — 19 men and seven women are training as the competitive swimming season gets under way.
Twelve swimmers hail from one of Israel's leading clubs: Maccabi Kiryat Ono, whose head coach is Dr. Rubi Shalev. Nine swimmers have spent two to seven years at the Swimming Boarding School (Hapnimiya) at Wingate Institute north of Tel Aviv, under the direction of head coach Leonid Kaufman, formerly of the Soviet Union.
The most noted swimmers in the States now are:
Shilo Ayalon, Georgia Tech., All-American and NCAA finalist in the 1650 free, European Championships finalist in the 1500m free and Israeli record-holder.
Tal Stricker, Florida State, 2000 Olympic breaststroker
Nimrod Palma, Univ. of Hawaii, 2001 Maccabiah Games champion in the 100m fly
Adi Bichman, Rice, 2000 Olympian and Israeli record-holder in women's distance freestyle
Hanan Levin, Yale, one of Israel's leading backstrokers
Inbal Levavi, Maryland, European Championships semifinalist (2002).
Shilo Ayalon is the only swimmer now in the States who is a member of the Israeli 2004 Athens Olympic team.