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Don’t know why swimming is being targetted: Coach Nihar Ameen on Karnataka shutting down pools

With Tokyo Olympics just a few months away, the swimming hopefuls, their coaches and different skilled swimmers discover themselves in scorching water once more because the Karnataka authorities on April 2 issued an order to close down swimming pools throughout the state until April 20 within the wake of rising COVID-19 circumstances.

With the brand new order to maintain the pools closed, over 1000 aggressive swimmers within the state might be put off form. In protest towards the transfer, greater than 600 folks together with coaches, members from affiliated golf equipment, dad and mom and swimmers gathered at Shri Kanteerava Stadium on Monday to attraction to the Karnataka authorities in Bengaluru to re-open pools.

The IndianExpress.com spoke to teach Nihar Ameen, who is coaching India’s Olympic hopefuls. He emphasised that swimming is one of many most secure sports activities to pursue through the pandemic because the virus doesn’t unfold by water, notably chlorinated water.

The first Dronacharya awardee in swimming feels that the game is being unfairly targetted, particularly when most contact-sports like cricket and soccer are allowed to be performed. While athletes in most disciplines have began collaborating in worldwide/nationwide competitions or are making ready for comebacks, swimming as a sport has felt the blow tougher than others, he mentioned.

No Indian has ever made the ‘A’ qualification normal, which presents a confirmed berth for the Olympics. Six Indians have, nevertheless, achieved the second-level Olympic qualifying mark or the B normal, which solely retains them within the reckoning in case the entire quota of swimmers is not reached by the tip of the qualification interval.

The swimmers to have attained the B qualification mark for Tokyo Olympics are Srihari Natraj (100m backstroke – 54.69), Kushagra Rawat (400m freestyle 3:52.75, 800m freestyle, 8:07.99, 1500m freestyle, 15:25.22), Sajan Prakash (200m butterfly, 1:58.45), Advait Page (800m freestyle, 8:00.76), Aryan Makhija (800m freestyle, 8:07.80), Virdhawal Khade (50m freestyle, 22.44s). Their purpose of attaining the A mark retains getting distant as swimming amenities keep inaccessible.

The Indian swimming contingent on the World Championships in Gwangju. (L-R) Sajan Prakash, Advait Page, Aryan Nehra, Likhith SP, Parth Varanashi (coach), Nihar Ameen (head coach), Kushagra Rawat, Virdhawal Khade and Srihari Nataraj

It’s been one yr of the pandemic. How did the lockdown halt the progress of the game in India?

The lockdown was brutal and now we have come a full circle now that they’ve shut the pools once more. If you don’t chlorinate the pool and depart it identical to that, you’re sure to get water illnesses like cholera, dengue, malaria and so forth. So it was an enormous problem – we needed to keep our pools which price us some huge cash, we needed to pay our workers which price us some huge cash. And there was no cash coming in.

And fairly frankly, this occurs once more and it is actually the tip of the street for us. We haven’t made up for the losses of 2020. We simply received began and had been going to pay our workers as properly. The swimmers had been simply coming again and now this has occurred once more.

I simply really feel that swimming is being unfairly targetted. The authorities should perceive that chlorinated pools won’t breed coronavirus. If you’re permitting different sports activities to be open, swimming must also be open. Athletes who’re coaching ought to be allowed to coach. The basic public is a special difficulty. I’m not speaking about that or pushing for the general public to be in water. But athletes who’re in coaching, who’re extremely disciplined identical to every other sportsperson, shouldn’t be victimised. Swimming is the most secure of all sports activities, that’s all I’m saying.

Athletes could possibly resort to different types of coaching/train when gyms/coaching centres are shut. But swimming is maybe one sport that may’t have an alternate. How did you retain the morale of your gamers up? Do you could have a sports activities psychologist to assist the gamers mentally?

Yes, we do. We have had a number of classes with them through the lack of coaching to maintain them motivated. We held common group classes, motivational classes with psychologists and health classes (exterior water), which might solely assist to that extent.

It all began fading away after a couple of months. Plenty of athletes had began dropping hope. Like one among my Olympic qualifiers, Virdhawal Khade, who was the primary swimmer within the nation, misplaced form, misplaced hope and he stop the game. Of all the brand new swimmers, he was the closest to A qualification for Tokyo (Olympics) and he stop as a result of he couldn’t comeback. He couldn’t make it. So that’s most likely one of many biggest losses now we have ever had. He is one of many greatest casualities of this pandemic.

Do you assume there is sufficient emphasis on swimming in India, contemplating it has a variety of medals on provide on the Olympics? What must be completed to make Indian swimming aggressive on the worldwide stage?

That’s an enormous query. Plenty of work is being completed by the Swimming Federation now to enhance the scenario – by calling down overseas specialists, getting state-of-the-art gear to India. Plenty of work is being completed however it’ll take us time to catch up. But we’d like extra swimmers, we’d like extra pools and we positively don’t want these sorts of disruptions.

It’s heartbreaking to see each contact sport being performed which are actually breeding the coronavirus. There are dozens of tennis gamers, dozens of soccer gamers, cricketers and coaches who’ve examined constructive as a result of these are all contact sports activities. Swimming is the most secure sport due to the chlorine. You can not catch the virus in water which is chlorinated water and that has been substantiated and proved by the WHO, in writing. And nonetheless, I don’t know who is targetting our sport and why they’re doing it!

What is the morale of the Olympic hopefuls proper now?

Right now, most of them are in another country at this level besides Srihari (Nataraj), who I’m speculated to be travelling with in a couple of days time for the Uzbekistan match, which is an Olympic qualifying match. We are hopeful that he might be doing properly.



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