Swimming Federation of India firms up long-term development plan
The suspension of sports activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic has handed the Swimming Federation of India (SFI) and opportunity to review and firm up a long-term development plan, the first part of which is development of coaches at all levels.
The long-term indigenous coaches education and certification pathway unveiled on Tuesday targets producing 3000 certified swim coaches in the country in five years in association with Australian sports education and consultancy company, MoreGold led by Wayne Goldsmith, one of the most experienced and effective sports performance consultants in the world.
“Pandemic lockdown gave us a chance to communicate with experts from India and abroad to get their views on how to re-plan and set in process a revamp plan with the help of technical experts, coaches, former swimmers,” informed Monal Choksi, SFI secretary, during a virtual press conference on Tuesday.
The SFI is planning a separate vertical to manage this project which will be self-sustaining technically and administratively via panels involving SFI officials, Indian coaches and technical experts.
“The coaching pathway will be the corner stone in revolutionizing how competitive swim coaching is delivered in India. This is one of the key elements in the road map SFI has charted for the development of competitive swimming in India,” R N Jayaprakash, SFI president.
“Coaches can inspire the hearts and minds of young athletes to believe that anything is possible and that they can achieve remarkable things. The program we will be delivering for SFI includes all the topics and themes one might expect from a swimming coach education program including how to coach swimming skills, how to improve swimming technique, how to enhance swimming speed, how to apply sports science to the coaching of swimmers. But we’re also committed to a holistic approach where Indian swimming coaches will learn how to connect, engage and most importantly inspire swimmers,” said Goldsmith. The partnership with MoreGold is for five years
The SFI’s long-term development plan for 2020-28 involves besides introduction of standardised coaching certification, mandatory online registration of swimmers and coaches and up-gradation of infrastructure in the the country, in which it is assisting the Sports Authority of India.
At this moment only a few training centres and pools adhere to the standards set by FINA, the sport’s world governing body. The SFI has initiated the process of purchasing underwater bio-mechanics monitoring equipment and software so as to help the elite swimmers improve their standard. This equipment will either be installed at the Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Swimming Pool Complex in New Delhi or the Padukone-Dravid Centre of Sports Excellence at Bengaluru.
Still time for competitions
Meanwhile SFI is gearing up for the restart of the sport after October 15.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has approved reopening of swimming pools for training purpose from that day but the SFI is not expecting the activities to start pan-India straight away as some states are yet to lift the restrictions.
The restriction on swimming pools were in place since March 24 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“On October 15, not all swimming pools will open, may be one or two. Pools are maintained by clubs, state governments etc. So it would not be possible to conduct national competitions if all states do not allow reopening of pools and swimmers get sufficient time to train and gain back the momentum lost due to the pandemic,” said Virendra Nanavati, SFI Executive Director. “So we have to wait for 4-5 months and see if it is possible to have competitions,” he added.
Both Choksi and Jayaprakash said SFI has asked all stakeholders to strictly follow the SOPs for reopening of swimming and promised strict action in case anybody fails to follow them.
According to Nanavati, the government has given permission to start training but the approval to start competitions is still awaited. The SFI will soon work out the revamped calendar for 2021 season. the SFI would be hoping that swimmers start training activities slowly, to avoid injuries, and get to speed by that time.
Dubai camp set to end
Meanwhile, the elite swimmers will get into trainng mode at select centres under the guidance of national coaches.
The three swimmers -- Kushagra Rawat, Srihari Nataraj and Sajan Prakash -- will be returning to India on Monday after their 60-day camp in Dubai ends on October 18.
The swimmers will go into mandatory quarantine and then start training at their respective centres till the time SFI opens a national camp. Some swimmers like Kushagra Rawat and Virdhawal Khade had plans to go abroad for training before the pandemic and are awaiting for travel restrictions to be lifted ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
“The qualification programme for Tokyo Olympics will start from January 2021 and we are hoping that all those swimmers that have achieved ‘B’ qualification marks for the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics, regain momentum and try and achieve the ‘A’ mark,” said Nanavati.