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Germans get cold feet for Israeli swim competition

Citing security concerns, majority of competitors want to stay home ahead of championships to be held in Netanya

German swimming coach Henning Lambertz (screenshot: YouTube)
German swimming coach Henning Lambertz (screenshot: YouTube)

A majority of German swimmers are considering skipping the upcoming European Short-Course Swimming Championships in Israel due to security fears, it emerged at their national championships over the weekend.

“Honestly, for me, the risk just seems too great,” said Alexandra Wenk, a world bronze medalist who competes in the women’s 100-meter butterfly.

Wenk is among 13 of the 25 swimmers who do not want to go to Netanya for security reasons, according to the spokesman of the German Swimming Federation.

Even head coach Henning Lambertz said he was “not hot to go out there” and that he would make a final decision closer to the event.

In contrast, stars like Paul Biedermann and Marco Koch expressed no fear.

“The security in Israel will be good. It’s no more dangerous than anywhere else,” said Koch, the world men’s 200-meter breaststroke champion, who secured his place in the competition by setting a new German record for the 400×4 relay medley.

For Biedermann, the decision to go to Israel has nothing to do with security, but “essentially depends on my ability to swim fast” during the qualifiers. Last season, the double 2009 world champion missed out on a medal at the World Short-Course Championships in Doha, Qatar, but clinched the bronze medal at the World Long-Course Championships in Kazan, Russia.

The German Swimming Federation said it will leave the choice to all swimmers and coaches.

The event is to be staged in Netanya, a popular seaside resort approximately 30 kilometers north of Tel Aviv, from December 2-6.

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