Eight Gold Medals!  Marcus Schlesinger didn’t even brag about winning any medals in advance of the Maccabi Australia International Games (MAIGs).  In fact, his only goal when he headed to Australia to represent the United States in Open Swimming was to give it 150% and do the best that he could.   It turns out that Schlesinger’s best was the best.  He took a gold medal in every event he swam individually, including an event he swam for the first time, the Ocean Swim.  Additionally, Marcus took a silver medal in the relay as a member of the international Team, paired with USA Open Swimmers and Israeli Olympian Swimmer Amit Ivry.

Marcus is a sophomore at Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) in Arkansas, a Division II school, where he is a member of the swim team.  He first got involved in swimming in high school and, at the urging of a close friend, Lucas, he also got involved with club swimming.  After ‘taking the plunge’ Marcus exhibited signs of being an extremely talented swimmer and won a scholarship to swim at OBU.

The Ocean swim was not an event in which he had originally planned to compete, but once there, and given the opportunity, he felt that he had to swim that race in honor of his best friend who had recently passed away.  Lucas, his friend who got him involved in swimming had been surfing in the Pacific Ocean in October near Santa Barbara when he was attacked by a great white shark.  Somehow, the opportunity to swim in the Ocean race seemed a fitting tribute to his friend.  From the moment he ran into the water until he was the first to emerge, Marcus knew that Lucas was with him in spirit and he knew that the race was the best way he could honor his friend.

Overall, Marcus had a gold-medal experience at the MAIGs – not just in the pool, but as he explored and learned about the Jewish Community in Sydney.  “It was an awesome experience,” Marcus said. “Meeting other Jewish athletes from around the world and making new friends was definitely on par with winning eight gold medals.”

Marcus now has his sights set on future international competitions, with his eyes on both the 2012 Olympic Games in London as well as the 19th World Maccabiah Games in Israel in July, 2013.  Maccabi USA will cheer him on at all the