The Legacy of Jewish Swimmers


    🕮    Karen Propp discusses her work in progress, Freestyle, a story of Jewish female swimming champs in Europe during WWII. The unpublished work won the 2013 Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries. 

Freestyle is based on the true story of champion swimmer Judith Deutsch and the Viennese Hakoah swim team of the 1930s, familiar to some from the documentary film Watermarks. Despite being selected by Austria to swim in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Deutsch and her teammates boycotted the Olympics to protest the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany.

The novel covers two years in the life of Elly Hirsch,  Propp’s fictional incarnation of Deutsch. The Award committee felt that Freestyle with its strong sense of history, sympathetic characters, and little known story, would appeal to a wide audience and epitomize the ideals of Sydney Taylor’s All of a Kind Family series. Freestyle looks at the years of the Holocaust with a unique light.


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Toby Harris said…
Actually, I'd love to see Karen stick to the novel in honoring this very interesting group of swimmers and other athletes. I love the Bobbie Rosenfeld biography but it does not seem to have checkout appeal with my young patrons. Though it's true we need more Jewish biographies, I like "hiding" biographies of unknowns because the kids don't seem as interested in a biography unless they're heard of the person. And they miss alot of great non-fiction if they choose not to look in the Holocaust section. My vote is for targeting 4th-6th graders with another great chapter book. Thanks for the opportunity to hear a book in the works! Nice interview.