By Dr. Buky Chass
WINGATE INSTITUTE, Israel, Sept. 26. WITH the constant threat of homicide bombings and other acts of terrorism, most invited teams, athletes and coaches have declined to come to Israel lately.
Not so four-time US Olympian Dara Torres.
In a one day swim clinic, as part of the High Holidays Sports Clinic at Wingate Institute, Dara gave an exciting, informative three- session clinic here in Israel.
The 34 year old star swimmer — the most Olympic- medaled Jewish female athlete in the world (Mark Spitz is the top male) — was simply awesome.
(With a total of nine Olympic medals, Dara ranks second among women in US Olympic history; only Jenny Thompson, with 10, has won more.)
Dara ran a session on her life story as a swimmer from the age of 7-8 until the epic Sydney Olympic Games.
A second session at the pool with Israel's elite youth swimmers focused on butterfly and freestyle technique and drills.
According to all 70 participants, from all over the country, Dara did a superb job in articulating what she had done and learned during her 15 months comeback (after seven years of retirement) with coach Richard Quick at Stanford University.
Her last session concentrated on her mental preparation for practice and competition while at Stanford. She gave a tremendous tribute to coach Quick and his program at Stanford.
For the first time Israeli coaches had a chance to learn from a mature, adult athlete, rather than from highly-rated coaches or scientists, who usually come from all over the world for this September Clinic.
Dara ended her short stay at the clinic by showing her gold medals from the Sydney Games and signing her well-known, 9-medal Speedo autograph cards.
The organizers have invited her to come back and get more involved with swimming and women's sports in Israel. According to Ms Torres, there is a very good chance that she will revisit Israel in February of 2003.