Potential in the Pool

November 21, 2010 by David Weiner-Maccabi NSW
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A Maccabiah Masters swimming star has launched an initiative to develop new swim stars.

Jeff Sher

Jeff Sher had just won a bagful of medals in masters swimming at the 2009 Maccabiah Games, but success had eluded Australia’s open swimmers during the meet. Pondering a solution while on a bus trip in Israel, Jeff knew something had to give if swimming, indeed all sports, was to be given the best chance to succeed by Maccabi across the country.

The idea of a National Swimming Committee was spawned, and when Jeff was co-opted onto the Maccabi Australia Incorporated board last year after returning from Israel, the idea came to life.

“It became obvious at Maccabiah that we needed to find a new way of doing things,” Jeff told Maccabi News. “I decided to set up this National Committee…it’s a beacon, because it puts the interest of sport ahead of personal interests. When that happens amazing things are possible.”

It is the first committee of its kind in any sport at Maccabi level, with swimming personnel from across the country uniting for their passion.

George Lazarus (Perth – which didn’t actually have a swimming club before this committee establishment), David and Daniel Rifkin (North Shore Sydney); Antony Goodridge and Brian May (Eastern Suburbs Sydney); Daniel Taft (Victoria); Danny and Nicky Burger (Swimming Victoria) and Clive Aaron (Chairman) joined Jeff in the initiative.

Their main goals are:

    • o Development of juniors for next Maccabiah (plus Pan Pacs and JCC Games along the way.
    • o Leverage resources to get better prices – the clubs now operate under same branding with 1 logo, 1 uniform across the country.
    • o Events.

The development squad, for example, so far includes 25 kids in NSW and 25 from Victoria, who have been provided with a dedicated plan and goals to work towards. The case of asking “are we going to throw a team together” 18 months before Maccabiah should be a thing of the past, and Sher hopes to “try and encourage other sports to pick this up”.

Their first task is to put on an event in the absence of a swim meet at the MAIGS, and while approximately 55-60 swimmers are heading to the Olympic Aquatic centre for the meet, the committee has waved qualifying times so any interested swimmers can get involved in the sport.

“It’s been a remarkable effort,” Sher said of the effort to put together the National Championships. “It shows that great things can be done…when you can build on objectives universally accepted.
“Our vision is to provide a pathway for young Jewish swimmers to engage with Maccabi for all the ideals it represents – they are our own vision too, but at the same time we want to encourage young swimmers to stay with the sport; it’s a tough sport to stay with.
“There’s an opportuniry to be mentored to see the benefits of what Maccabi and swimming represents.”

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