For years, Rajesh Sejwal, 47, mother of 25-year-old national level swimmer Sandeep Sejwal had taken her Asian bronze medalist son to Dhyan Chand National Stadium for training as there was no facility available in Lado Sarai, where they stayed. Sandeep, who has been swimming since the age of five, along with his mother would change two buses to reach the stadium and spend around four hours travelling every day. Finally, her efforts paid off and Sandeep won a bronze medal at Incheon Asian Games last year.
Sandeep, who began swimming at a pool attached to Kendriya Vidyalaya, RK Puram, while remembering his journey, says that his mother had a dream of seeing him become a swimming champion one day. “RK Puram’s swimming pool was the only option available to us at that time. Over the years, south Delhi has undergone several changes and there are several clubs and academies now which offer professional training to sports enthusiasts,” he says. He further adds, “For someone who grew up in Lado Sarai, swimming started as a fun activity, but soon it became a passion.”
Till a couple of years back, the culture of taking up swimming professionally was slowly fading away in south Delhi because at that time, professional swimmers couldn’t bring home many medals, but things are gradually changing since Sandeep won the medal.
“Things have drastically changed in the last few years. Now, there are many competitions being held and even the prize money has increased. In fact, swimming has become the most preferred sport and many young boys and girls are undergoing training in my neighbourhood,” he said.
Aquatic games’ coach at Sarvodaya Vidyalaya in Safdarjung Enclave, Debu Rana, said, “Last year, we organised South Delhi Swimming Meet, which saw overwhelming response from the children of South Delhi. Around 500 children participated.”
“I want to coach children of south Delhi when I retire,” said Sandeep, who still takes his mother along with him for practice.