Just getting the chance to swim together with his son was a dream come true for David Halpern. He never dreamed it would turn out to be such a golden memory.
“Never in a million years,” said the Tampa-based plastic surgeon.
Halpern and his son, Jeremy Parker, BOTH won gold and silver medals in the Maccabiah Games in early July. They were two of the over 10,000 athletes that represented the U.S. in the Olympic-style competition that featured competitors from 80 countries all over the world.
“I walked out (at Opening Ceremonies) with my dad and they were all cheering,” said Parker, who won his gold medal in the 800-meter freestyle relay and his silver in the 400-meter freestyle relay. “It was awesome.”
At the time of our first interview, in preparation for the Maccabiah Games in Israel, Parker, a recent University of Tampa graduate, was expectedly excited about swimming in the same competition with his dad.
It would be Jeremy’s first international competition. He narrowly missed out on making Team USA at the Olympic Trials ahead of the Rio Games.
It would be Halpern’s first international event since he, and the rest of the Americans who qualified, didn’t participate in the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.
This experience made up for missing those Games.
Halpern, 56, trained twice a day to prepare for the races. He won gold in a 50-meter freestyle event and silver in the 200-meter relay.
“You put that cap on that says 'USA' on it, and it’s a special feeling,” said David. “The competition was very, very strong competition.”
Who knew he and his dad would both represent the USA so well?
David plans to keep swimming just to stay in shape. Jeremy was offered a chance to swim for the Israeli national team. Accepting the offer means he’d forgo his eligibility to swim for any Team USA again, so he is taking some time to think about this swimming future.
“It’s hard, but I’ll make the right decision,” he said.
No matter what the future holds, the memory of winning in Israel will stick with the duo forever.
“I think I’m going to remember me being there in Israel with my family and us doing this together,” said David, holding tightly to his two medals. “It’s a very special thing.”