Swimming for Maccabiah Gold at 70

This interview was first published on The Sisterhood blog at the Forward.

Masters swimming champion and 14-time Maccabiah Games competitor Jane Katz

Masters swimming champion and 14-time Maccabiah Games competitor Jane Katz

There are over 900 American athletes competing at the 19th Maccabiah Games currently taking place in Israel. Among them is swimmer Dr. Jane Katz, who broke a record before even getting in to the pool. Katz, 70, is competing in an amazing 14th consecutive Maccabiah Games. While many Jewish athletes have been coming to the “Jewish Olympics” for many years, only Katz can date her first appearance back to 1957.

Katz, at her first Maccabiah Games, on the cover of an Israeli magazine from 1957.

Katz, at her first Maccabiah Games, on the cover of an Israeli magazine from 1957.

Katz, who grew up on the Lower East Side and still lives in New York, was just 14 years old at her first Maccabiah Games. At that time, she could never have imagined that she’d still be at it 56 years later. She swam in the open competition as long as she could, and then she served as a coach or manager for four games. When Masters level competition (age 35 and up) was introduced in 1985, she got back in the water — where she has been ever since. At these games, she plans on swimming an ambitious 13 events over three days in the women’s 70-74 age group.

Katz has made a splash far beyond the Maccabiah movement. She has been teaching water fitness at City University of New York since 1964 and is a professor at John Jay College in the Department of Physical Education and Athletics. She is an American and world champion Masters swimmer and synchronized swimmer, and has received many awards and recognitions, including her induction to the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.

She spoke with the Forward’s Renee Ghert-Zand, sharing her memories from her first Maccabiah Games and thoughts on how being part of the Maccabiah movement has influenced her life.

Click here to read the interview.

© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.


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