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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

PUNE: Aquatic sports miss out on peak season, swimmers worried over virus transmission

One of the main concerns among swimmers and parents was contracting the infection despite precautions. “We cannot expect swimmers to get to practice as soon as the pools reopen, as there is concern over the virus."

Written by Ruchika Goswamy | Pune | Updated: May 24, 2020 11:27:29 pm
Unlike other sports, swimming requires at least two to three months for elite and professional swimmers to get acclimatised and tune into their previous year’s performance apart from dry land exercises and regular fitness regimes (Kiana Hayeri/The New York Times)

AQUATIC SPORTS are staring at an uncertain future as far as district, state and national tournaments are concerned as activities such as swimming, diving and water polo have lost out on pivotal months of training and practice as well as a probable opportunity to recognise new talent in summer camps. Concerns over acquiring sponsorship to hold matches prevail as swimmers and parents are worried over virus transmission in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

“Swimming is a summer sport as till the month of February, swimmers, especially those in schools and colleges, concentrate on academics. It is only around April that swimmers, divers and team players for water polo come in for practice. Additionally, Maharashtra is performing well in these sports. However, this year, we have lost out on this crucial period due to a lockdown for Covid-19 since March. Unlike other sports, swimming requires at least two to three months for elite and professional swimmers to get acclimatised and tune into their previous year’s performance apart from dry land exercises and regular fitness regimes,” said Jaiprakash Duble, Joint Director of Sports and Youth Services, Maharashtra.

Duble said while the Swimming Federation of India (SFI) has requested the ministry for elite swimmers to resume with training, he was hopeful that in due time pools can reopen for competitive events. He said in the meantime, precautionary directions and guidelines as well as tentative blueprint for competitive matches could be prepared.

“We are awaiting directives from the Centre. As far as opening the swimming pool is concerned, we would require not only national but state and local administrative permit. At present, the Balewadi stadium is being used as a quarantine centre; so, unless permission is granted we cannot pursue further,” he said.

He also said since the economic scenario was not looking good, getting sponsors, especially for local matches, will be difficult.

“We prepared and got swimmers ready for matches, which have eventually been called off due to Covid-19. While swimmers, divers and water polo players were engaged through webinars conducted by the federation, they need to get into the water. Some of the swimmers take part in more than one sport, so they require practice time. We also missed out on picking out new swimmers during the summer. Usually, say if we have 100 amateur swimmers, at least 25 go onto continue the sport professionally, who then enter district, state and national matches,” said Nita Talavlikar, woman representative at SFI and Treasurer with Pune District Amateur Aquatic Association (PDAAA) and Swimming Association of Maharashtra.

Talavlikar said one of the main concerns among swimmers and parents was contracting the infection despite precautions. “We cannot expect swimmers to get to practice as soon as the pools reopen, as there is concern over the virus,” she said.

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