Devon Polak can swim quite well but even he might have a hard time treading water while carrying all his medals from the JCC Maccabi Games in Austin, Texas.
The 15-year-old swimmer from Upper Dublin won eight gold, one silver and two bronze medals in his second year competing at the games, which ended Aug. 1.
Team Philadelphia sent 37 athletes to Texas. Another contingent of 104 athletes is at the JCC Maccabi Games in Orange County, Calif., which started Aug. 4. The annual JCC Maccabi games involve teenagers from around the country at different locations each year.
Polak, who won seven medals at the 2012 games in Rockland County, N.Y., said the games this year were very competitive and that he had “a lot of lucky wins.”
But you can only attribute so much to luck when you wake up year round at 5 a.m. or even earlier for swim practice. Sharon Polak, Devon’s mother, said the sophomore at Upper Dublin High School “bleeds chlorine.”
The swimmer said there were a number of extremely tight finishes in his races, including the 200 freestyle, which he won by a few hundredths of a second and which he described as one of his highlights from the games.
“The competition here was really close,” Polak said. “The other swimmers were really pushing me.”
Polak’s coach Josh Cooperstein praised his positive attitude in competing.
“I had one volunteer say that he has some of the best sportsmanship that she's ever seen in all of her years assisting with meets,” Cooperstein wrote in an email.
Polak still has a few years until college but he already has an idea of what he wants to study: engineering. Later this summer, he will intern at an architecture and engineering firm.
His mother said he takes school very seriously. Polak said when he’s stressed out, he “goes to practice and swims.”