How did you end up traveling all the way from Haifa, Israel to the University of Wyoming?
"There is a big story behind it. I wanted to come to the Rocky Mountain area and my goal was to go to Denver because I had a friend who went there. Their coach gave me a scholarship but then he was fired and the new coach didn't offer me a scholarship. Apparently Guy Ferber (a former Wyoming swimmer) heard about my story and told TJ and he called me and offered me a scholarship so I came here."
What was the first thing that attracted you to swimming?
"I was horrible at every other sport. I tried everything like judo, karate, ice skating, hockey, soccer and then when I started swimming I was pretty good at it. I started when I was like 10 or 11 (which is pretty old for a swimmer) and it turned into a way of life."
When did you decide that butterfly was the event for you?
"When I was 14 or 15 my coach almost gave up on me because I couldn't do any stroke correctly. My freestyle and backstroke were horrible so my coach said why not put me in the 200 butterfly. That first race turned out to be the first time I qualified for nationals and I finished last but since then I have done really well with it."
What are your plans after college, stay in the United States or go back to Israel?
"I like the U.S. and would like to stay here so hopefully I can make it work. I have relatives in California who are helping me out with that. I am planning on spending my life here in the U.S. even though going home is always plan B."
Are there any places in the U.S. that you have visited that remind you of Israel?
"Actually this summer I took a road trip to California to visit my relatives who live in Beverly Woods which is right by Beverly Hills. That place reminded me a lot of Haifa because it is on the beach and it is a big city but it doesn't feel like a very big city. It is humid and warm and reminded me of home."
What is the biggest difference between your hometown of Haifa and Wyoming?
"Size. A lot of people don't realize how small Israel is. It is 1/26th the size of Wyoming. I think the population of Wyoming is around 500,000 people. Haifa, which is the third largest city in Israel, has a population of about 2 million. Other than that, the Israeli culture is based on American culture. It is like a combination of American and European culture so it is actually a lot like America."
What did you think when you touched the wall, looked at the scoreboard and realized that you had won the Mountain West Conference Championship in the 200 butterfly last spring?
"First of all, going into that event I was undefeated last year so I was pretty confident about it. My goal wasn't only to win the championship but to make the NCAA's, which I unfortunately missed. But this year I am going to make it. I guess I was just really happy. I knew I was going to win the 200 fly but I didn't realize what it was going to feel like until I actually did. It was amazing!
What is your greatest memory, swimming or not, thus far of being a Cowboy?
"It is swimming related because I love swimming. Probably winning the MWC Championships and also breaking the oldest record in Corbett Pool (in the 200 butterfly). It was a record from 1972 and I was really happy to break it my sophomore year.
You have the bucking horse tattooed on your stomach. What made you decide to get it?
"Just before I came to Wyoming I had a pretty rough year in Israel. I didn't have a good coach and I thought about quitting swimming but my parents kind of pushed me to try to get a scholarship even though I felt like swimming might not be the path for me. I finally decided why not give it a go so I came here and just had so much fun. I felt reconnected with swimming and the whole environment, school, all the people here and all the coaches. I knew I wanted to be a Cowboy so I made sure with the tattoo."
What is your favorite kind of music?
"That's a hard one. I guess older music like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin."
What do you listen to before a race?
What is your favorite Movie?
"I like well filmed movies like Requiem for a Dream."
What is your favorite TV show?
"There are a lot. Especially Everybody Loves Raymond and Nip/Tuck."
What is your favorite American food?
"I like eating Mexican food because there isn't any in Israel and I have no idea how. It's kind of weird because a lot of people from Israel fly to South America so I would expect Mexican food to be in Israel but it isn't."
What is your favorite Israeli food?
"In Israel there is the best hummus and falafels and I miss it."