At the break of dawn, a group of youngsters assemble near the swimming pool of Madukar Vasudeva Goray, a Maharashtrian businessman, settled in the northern city of Kozhikode.
For them it is time of take their swimming lessons. Rain or shine, Goray (62) has been giving free swimming lessons to young children for the last 40 years.
Goray says he has lost count of the number of persons trained. "May be in thousands," the cloth merchant blushes a bit. He shuns publicity, so a lot of prodding was needed to unwind his 41 years of swimming tales.
The swimming pool is situated right in the heart of the city.
If you think he’s there to churn out swimming champs, you are mistaken. True, he’s training youngsters not to participate in swimming competitions but to learn a few life-saving tips. No helpers or assistants, he does everything on his own. And his family members support his businessman to the hilt. He will be there in the pool four days a week (Thursday to Sunday) starting 7 to 8.30 am. He does it religiously. Interestingly, a majority of these students are from poor background who can’t afford the luxury of a swimming pool and coach.
"If you ask me how I started it and continued all these years, I have no answer. Whatever I know, I like to impart to others, especially youngsters. I like sharing. I have been doing this since my youth, say as early as at 20.", he says. No dress code or binding rules for youngsters. At times, their number will swell to over 50. In such cases, he trains them in groups.
"It is a risky venture. You have to be at the poolside till the last boy or girl leaves. Parents entrust their responsibility on me. Naughty ones are also there. Call it grace, nothing untoward happened so far. I enjoy giving a few tips which I know," the ace swimmer says. He himself learned the tricks at seven and prefers children below 10.