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by Karen Propp

Swimmers Against the Tide

Girl athletes who broke the boundaries, broke the records, and broke free.

This July, the European Maccabiah Games were held in Vienna, marking the first time that Jewish athletes from dozens of nations competed on a territory of former Nazi Germany. It’s a fitting moment to celebrate a group of exceptional Jewish girls who were exultant champions over 70 years ago as Hitler’s reign approached. They were the Hakoah Vienna women’s swim team, a group of athletes whose sports prowess was equaled by their political courage. My mother, too, was a girl in Vienna during these years, and my grandfather a Hakoah soccer player.

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