The Tilak tank was closed after government of Maharashtra declared a mini lockdown across the state. (Ravindra Joshi/HT PHOTO)
The Tilak tank was closed after government of Maharashtra declared a mini lockdown across the state. (Ravindra Joshi/HT PHOTO)

Swimming pools pile-up losses in Pune, professional swimmers hit

In the last 12 months since March 2020, pools were allowed for all for only two months in February and March 2021
By Jigar Hindocha
UPDATED ON APR 07, 2021 05:24 PM IST

Swimming pools were yet to recover from the losses of the 2020 lockdown and a fresh set of restrictions until April 30 have been put them in a state of limbo.

In the last 12 months since March 2020, pools were allowed for all for only two months in February and March 2021.

In the month of November, only sportspersons were allowed to train.

“The four months of February, March, April and May are important months for the business and in the rest of the eight months, financial management is done by the profit earned in four months,” said Narendra Acharekar, coach, Harmony Aquatic Club, Kothrud.

In Pune, there are around 60 swimming pools where professionals and non- professionals practice swimming. Maintenance along with the payment of staff and electric bills costs around 45,000 which is spent on pools every month.

“Even if the pool is not functional, you cannot skip maintenance. Every month the chemicals which are used to keep the water clean and swimming friendly costs around 25,000 need to be changed. We have somehow managed all this expenses for one year but if another long lockdown happens then it will put us in a big trouble because we cannot stop the payment of staff in lockdown as well,” said Acharekar.

Along with non-professional swimmers, professionals who have upcoming tournaments in the coming months will miss the pool practice due to lockdown.

“There are nationals in June and July and only physical exercise will not help swimmers from Pune so at least the government should allow competitive swimmers to train. It will help them a lot and some activity at pool will be also continued,” said Vinay Marathe, proprietor, Champion Aquatic Club, at Bal Gandharva.

Sadhvi Dhuri who won five gold medals and one silver at the Khelo India University Games in February 2020 said, “Not all the swimmers can go out of the city to train so professional swimmers’ practice should be allowed. Last one year was tough and staying away from the pool for so many days affected the performance.”

Lifeguards find it difficult to survive

Rakesh Bhagat who has worked as a lifeguard at Harmony Aquatic Club since 2009 fears a repeat of the 2020 lockdown.

“It was worse, I got married in February 2020 and the state was under lockdown from March. I thank Acharekar sir for taking care of my house rent and providing me with groceries. My livelihood can only come on track when pools will remain active. The current situation of helplessness invites suicidal thoughts to minds,” said Bhagat who is unable to find other jobs due to the Covid crisis.

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