TORONTO — A chance meeting at a wedding in Toronto two years ago inspired Larry Bell, 72, to get back into competitive swimming.
A competitor at the Maccabiah Games in 1957, and 1964, when his team won gold in the medley relay, he happened to meet a fellow swimmer, Ami Trauber, who swam for Israel in 1957.
“He told me he was swimming on the Canadian master’s team and asked me to join him [in the upcoming 19th Maccabiah Games],” Bell said.
“My grandson, Cole Grossinger, is playing on the open men’s volleyball team, and my son-in-law, Howie, Cole’s dad, is the assistant coach of that team. How could I not think about the opportunity of having three generations going to the Games?”
The Maccabiah Games, which run every four years in Israel, are being held from July 18 to 30.
Bell, who founded Camp Robin Hood in its current Markham location 54 years ago – it’s now run by his daughter and son-in-law, Sari and Howie Grossinger – is still active in the camp’s day-to-day operations.
“It’s a labour of love for me. I love working with young people.”
For the past seven months, since he decided to enter the competition Israel, he has been swimming five times a week, and he swam in Tel Aviv when he was there for his grandson’s bar mitzvah.
“I haven’t swam competitively since I was a student at University of Toronto and ‘retired’ from competitions. I never thought I would do it again. I’ve kept up swimming, but not competitively,” he said.
“The training wasn’t easy at first. I had to dedicate myself, and work through a lot of aches and pains. I got rid of them, though, and I’m ready to go.”
He is entering five events in Israel – freestyle and the 50-, 100-, 200- and 400-metre swims.
“I can’t wait to get there. My wife and my son-in-law’s parents are coming, and I have family in Israel, so there will be lots of people to cheer us on.”
The next print edition of The CJN is Aug. 1.