Eileen Schwartz thinks yeshiva sports are all wet, or at least they should be.
"I’ve been trying to start a swim league for quite a few years," said Schwartz, the athletic director at Teaneck’s Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls. "So far, only The Frisch School in Paramus and Bruriah High School for Girls participate with us, but I want to start a league…. Swimming is a great sport, because if you’re not an athlete with a ball, it’s a way to be athletic."
Although Ma’ayanot is not a member of a swim league, it does boast a deep pool of sporting options. Schwartz said that when she first came to the school nine years ago, it only had a basketball team. Now, the 10-year-old institution fields teams in nine sports including track, volleyball, hockey, soccer, and others.
"New teams have been established by the girls coming over to me and wanting to start them," said Schwartz, who coaches, and teaches health and phys-ed and a health fitness and nutrition class at Ma’ayanot.
"Recently," she continued, "girls have wanted to start football and fencing teams. I tell them, if you can get enough girls, you can do it."
Last year, three Ma’ayanot teams — hockey, soccer, and softball — made it to the championship game, with the hockey team taking home the crown.
"Hockey has always been the most popular [sport at Ma’ayanot] because in five seasons they’ve won three or four championships, and they’ve made the championship game every year," said Schwartz.
This year, the Teaneck school is hoping to send its basketball and volleyball teams to championships, as both are nearing the end of their respective seasons and are in contention for playoff spots.
"We always hope to go for the gold," said Schwartz, "but we’ll take it one game at a time."
As for the phantom swim team, Schwartz said that while some schools have expressed interest, it remains difficult to garner the type of participation that is needed in a bona fide league.
"Finding funding and a pool is an issue," said Schwartz, but "eventually something will happen. It is an expensive sport, but the kids can chip in, and it can happen."
And as for the Ma’ayanot’s big three — hockey, soccer, and softball — Schwartz sees them swimming once again towards the championship game.
"It’s absolutely doable," said Schwartz. "G-D willing, it will happen."-