As we complete our preview to next month’s JCC Maccabi Games, the final two squads who will be representing Team Maccabi GB in Fort Lauderdale, Florida will be competing in the swimming and dance events.
Hoping to make a splash in the pool will be Isaac Gold, Jack Clapper, Joe Kaye, Isabella Green, Gabriella Weller and Yali Zmora. The squad is managed by Adam Warner.
He says: “This will be the first time they’ve had the opportunity to represent their country in swimming and all of them are looking forward to the start of the competition.’
Zmora, at 13 years of age, is the youngest member of the squad. He began swimming when he was just three months and now swims for Cheltenham Swimming Water Polo Club, where he’s won a host of club honours.
Kaye has been a member of Hatfield for the past 18 months and has competed at county and regional level, while Weller, who’s been swimming competitively since the age of ten at Camden Swiss Cottage Swim Club, says: “I’m very excited to swim with Team Maccabi GB in Fort Lauderdale and compete at an international level.”
Gold swims for Broomfield Park Swimming Club and has represented them in the National Arena League, Middlesex County and London Regional competitions.
Clapper and Green are the eldest members of the group, at 15 years of age. The former is a member of the Habs Boys swimming team and also plays Water Polo for Watford’s U16 team.
He says: “I’m really excited for the experience and opportunity, and I’ll give it my best shot!” Green has been a member of Barnet Copthall Swimming Club since she was eight and says “she’s very much looking forward to representing her country this summer”.
The swimmers have met up for monthly training sessions and have just completed a final training session in the outdoor 50m Hillingdon pool.
As to what his expectations are for the squad, Adam says: “Competition will be tough against the different countries and states. However, the swimmers should focus only on their own individual goals and not worry about what another swimmer is doing.
Five of the selected swimmers with coach Adam Warner (Photo: handout)
“I would love for them all to swim personal bests, get to the finals and potentially win medals. It’s also important for them to bond with other athletes and create memories together, but overall I want them to have fun and make new friends from abroad.”
Renee Yantin is managing the squad’s four dancers and is “happy and excited” with the quartet — comprising Sabrina Davis, Izzy Goodman, Jessica Petar and Etta Saunders — she’s assembled.
She says: “We have four girls aged between 13 and 15, all of whom are extremely talented and hardworking. All are from different dance schools with different backgrounds of training. Izzy trains at Spirit YDC, competes at both regional and national levels and also takes part in filming projects which are posted on YouTube, while Jess trains at Supreme dance and is also on their competition team as well as an advanced associate programme.
“Sabrina trains at West Hampstead School of Dance and Jumpup Dance Academy alongside additional classes at Base and Pineapple and is also set to join the Tring
Performing Arts Associate Programme in September, with Etta dancing at a local school and being part of many performances as well as completing her grades in ballet exams.”
Ahead of the Games, the squad’s training has involved rehearsals for three to four hours every few weeks, as well as lots of conversations about costumes, music and makeup.
With the start of competition fast approaching, rehearsals will now increase to twice a week to ensure maximum preparation for the beginning of the competition.
As to what standard of the opposition they can expect in Fort Lauderdale, Renee says: “I’m anticipating a high level of competition as dance in the US is taken very seriously.
"My expectations are to hopefully come back with some medals. Our dances are amazing and the girls definitely deserve it, but I also want them to have an incredible experience.
“We’ve put together 12 dances including group, duets and solos, so I’d hope that we come back with at least six medals but anything will be a success!”
Looking forward to representing their country at the tournament, she adds: “For the girls, this is their first Maccabi GB involvement, they’re all so excited to fly out and meet everyone, and represent MGB in their dances.
I hope that the girls meet lots of new people, make friends from all around the world and stay in touch with them afterwards.
“I’ve been involved in MGB for a few years now, but this is definitely the most exciting thing I’ll be doing yet!”