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High Marks for Jewish Swimmers


URL: http://www.jewishjournal.com/arts/article/high_marks_for_jewish_swimmers_20050401

"Watermarks" is a life-affirming documentary that celebrates the constancy of courage and grace, from youth to old age. Its setting is the waltz-loving Austria of the 1920s and '30s, where the lithe young swimmers of the fabled Hakoah ("the strength") Vienna sports club are beating their "Aryan" rival clubs year after year. Freestyler Judith Deutsch alone breaks 12 national records in 1935 and is the toast of the town, until she refuses to compete for Austria at Hitler's 1936 Olympic Games. As punishment, she is barred from competition for life and all her marks are erased from the official record books. After the Reich's takeover of Austria in 1938, the swimmers scatter to Palestine, the United States and England, marry and establish professional careers. Some 65 years later, Israeli director Yaron Zilberman decided to track down eight of the swimmers, now in their 80s, in their adopted countries.

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