The Indian swimmers may have performed better in the recent Asian Team Championship in Bangalore, placing a podium high of 52 medals, including 15 gold, 19 silver and 18 bronze.
However, in terms of general standards in Asia, let alone on the world stage, Indian swimmers fall far behind. Much was expected of some Indians who met with the Olympic A's from the Asian-era team, but failed.
While it may be frustrating on this front, the National Swimming Pool and award-winning Dronarkia, S Pradeep Kumar is of the opinion that there is still hope for swimmers for next year's Tokyo Olympics, although the road is not so smooth.
"We have 3-4 swimmers who are likely to make the Olympic A & # 39; time," Kumar told DNA from Bengaluru, where he was a member of the Asian age group. "Improving at this stage is very tough, even to spend half a second faster than their personal gain is not easy, but there is still a chance," Kumar said.
The reason why the Olympic Games '' O '' badge was not fulfilled last week, according to Kumar, was that 'swimmers are in constant competition'. These fights have been going on for the last two months. First were the World Championships in Korea, followed by the World Youths in Hungary and then the Senior Nationals in Bhopal. We couldn't reach the 'A' schedule, "Kumar said.
He said that gays like Srihari Nataraj, middle and long distance amateurs Kushagra Rawat and Advait Page are improving. However, Kumar said their qualifying opportunities for the Olympics depend on the schedule they follow. Rawat was declared the best swimmer in the Asian Age Group Open with four individual gold medals (200m, 400m, 800m, 1,500m freestyle), a record and a gold relay.
"Funding is the main issue. There is the TOPS project but it is for people who are nominees for medals. Our swimmers have a lot of exposure but what is not Indian swimming is scientific help," Kumar said.
Explaining further, Kumar, who is a member of the FINA coaching committee and is currently the head coach of the Aqua Nation Sports Academy in Dubai, said: "We need to have all these analytics facilities. It can come close to the swimmers' mission for the Olympics.
"What is happening today is that two swimmers are privately funded. Kushagra is part of the Glenmark program, Advait trains in the US. Srihari is looking for some support like this. What we need is any support that comes in should be on the right, you need a high performance center with well-trained buses, appropriate scientific assistance, for example nutrition, recovery, etc., "said Kumar.
Kumar said Indian swimmers, despite lack of facilities, are competing with the world's swimming giants such as China, Japan, European countries and the US. "For some of these guys, Sajan Prakash, Virdhawal Khade, to get into third, fourth or fifth place in the Asian Games with world class athletes, is commendable. But you see the level or performance of the top countries. so much sports culture and sports facilities there. They don't have to go out to train for longer periods. As a country we can have our own system, "he said.
It is perhaps here that Australia's triple gold medalist, Stephanie Rice, who was in Mumbai last week to unveil her plans to set up a swimming academy in India, could help.
Kumar, who has met Rice on several occasions during the FINA World Championships and the Olympic Games, tried to contact Rice to understand her plans. Perhaps, Rice could have traveled to Bangalore during the same time period with the Asian Era team so that she could meet with the officials of the Indian Swimming Federation and get her plans forward.
Kumar said: "Stephanie's plan to establish an academy in India is exciting, but we need to know what she is looking for and I sent her a message last week when she was in Mumbai. We need to know what he's looking for. When you have an Olympian to train you, our swimmers will be pushed to do better, in training or in races. We'll have dozens of swimmers to train with, "Kumar said.