‘Long-distance swimming is on the rise in India,’ says founder of Enduro Sports Goa

Elias Patel, founder, Enduro Sports Goa, speaks about the Annual Swimathon and also explained the sports swimming industry in the country and people’s response to the sport.
Elias Patel, founder of Enduro Sports Goa.(HT Photo)
Elias Patel, founder of Enduro Sports Goa.(HT Photo)
Updated on Apr 23, 2018 05:31 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Pune | ByHT Correspondent

Elias Patel, founder, Enduro Sports Goa, spoke exclusively to Hindustan Times about the Annual Swimathon and also explained the sports swimming industry in the country and people’s response to the sport. He also spoke in great detail about why Goa is an ideal pocket for water sports in the country and how sports in the state are constantly on the rise. The 2018 Swimathon was the 8th such event.

How has the journey been for you and what brought you the idea of starting a long-distance swimming competition?

It’s been a fantastic and fulfilling journey. The first Swimathon came in 2011 with the idea of promoting sea swimming in Goa and the country. In the first year, it wasn’t a commercial event and we only had 14-17 swimmers participating. However, since 2012, we have gone commercial and things have been on the rise. Every year we’re seeing an upturn in the number and this year we had 60 more participants compared to 2017 and broke the 300 mark for the first time.

Being a relatively unheard concept, what was your advertising strategy to lure people towards the event and make them aware of sea swimming in their city and country?

In the first year, it was just word of mouth. We knew people who were interested in swimming and encouraged them to participate in this. Then as we saw an interest from the people, we decided to go big and create social media pages. Now we even have our own advertisements in newspapers and almost every Goan is aware of Enduro Sports and our other various events.

Is there an active involvement from the locals as well as the tourists from other cities? Also, are there any foreign participants in the Swimathon?

This year the Goan participation was small, roughly about 15%. We do have foreign participation as well but that’s relatively lower with about 7-10%. We receive a lot of non-local registrations from Bengaluru, Mumbai and Pune. They are our three main catchment areas and we’re in touch with a number of athletes from these cities.

Why do you think Goa is an ideal venue for long-distance swimming competitions?

We live in Goa and it is our home. We’ve been born and brought up here so it made sense to choose this as our venue, given how the state is famous for its beaches and proximity to the sea. We also know the state here and are aware that the water is extremely clean. Bambolin Beach is an extremely safe beach and we’re thankful to Drishti Lifesaving who provide us with lifeguards. Also, we’re looking to promote Goa as a destination for water sports in the country.”

What are your thoughts about sea swimming in the country and what role does Enduro Sports play in promoting the sport?

Well, sea swimming is a new concept so it will take some time to be a popular sport in the country. This is particularly because since birth children are told not to enter the sea and swim because it’s dangerous. It’s basically in their psyche and we need to change their mindset. In fact, I have seen a lot of first-timers that have come and enjoyed by seeing how much fun and adventurous the sea swimming events are while they’re also aware of their safety since the moment they enter the water. It’s a gradual process, but I’m happy with the progress seen with each passing year.”

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