1.3 billion people in India and we had 10 Indian swimmers make it to the Prelims of the Olympics.( Hakimuddin Habibulla, Virdhawal Khade , Nisha Millet, Rehan Poncha, Ankur Poseria, Sandeep Sejwal, Shamsher Khan,Shikha Tandon,Gagan Ullalmath, Sebastian Xavier).
2016 Olympic Hopefuls (may be a few more but I got these from Google.) Sandeep Sejwal, Shamsher Khan, Shikha Tandon, Gagan Ullalmath, Sebastian Xavier, Shivani Kataria, Damini Gowda, Mana Patel. Didn’t want to disturb our coach for info. He is probably asleep as he needs to make 6 am swim-practice tomorrow. This is just so you get the idea of how many actually make it. And how many don’t!
800 swimmers took part in last years District Meet for Mumbai. We have 7 long course ( 50 meter) swimming pools in the whole of Mumbai. MGMO, The most accessible to us, is leaking. Khamghar Dadar is a BMC ( municipal pool). Only accessible after 8 pm. The rest are private clubs, so join them or be damned.
This is the Sport my son has chosen. This is his passion. This has been our lives since he was 5 years old. It is something I wouldn’t wish on any Parent. The Practices are gruelling, Early mornings and late nights. Diet so so important, children eat their meals in the car on their way to school or on their way back home.There is No Dessert. At least 7 hours of Sleep is imperative for the swimmer. Parents get barely 5 hours if lucky.
At 11 years he has to learn discipline and time management for his studies and make it to 11 sessions of swim and strength training. This is Not just him, every swimmer that is now in training for the Swimming Nationals in June/ July2016. Every swimmer in the past has had it as hard and the pressure builds up. Many Burn out by the time they are 12. By the time the Board Exams come, many have stopped competitive swimming. So all those hours, all those sacrifices made for a chance at a medal, will seem in vain. Its just metal in your drawer. The key is to last, the key is to not fall into the trap of early winnings. Young children have an inherent disadvantage of getting over-confident. I keep telling my child that he has to be so focused that with every loss, he will learn to do better. But how many losses can a parent accept? How many times have I wished that he would just stop!
Swimming in India will get you limited work, If you are Schedule Castes then the National Medal gets you a Government Post. If you are a national winner you can become a coach in India at Clubs or Schools. You can start your own swim academy, but that needs major funding. OR You can impart your knowledge to youngsters to fund your new passion, like GOLF, as Rehan Poncha does.
Very few have got swimming scholarships abroad because what they need is a very high SAT score.Those that leave, will not come back to work in India as US returned or UK returned coaches. The swimming accolades are added Points to your college application. Your 8000 word essay and your CAS project is what gets you into Universities abroad and with the hours put in with training, many have missed the opportunity to study as hard and therefore a missed chance at a Foreign education.
For Example: Aahanksha Vora. Best Athlete National Games 2015. 6 gold medals. Head Girl Cathedral. Havard only wanted her SAT Scores. The rest was all added frills. She is someone I truly admire. Yes, she made their swim team. So maybe we see her representing India at the Olympics in 2020.
Nothing wrong with Indian Universities. The good ones that lead to The Great Indian Dream only want marks of 98% upwards. And there are nearly 30 million of those students in India ( slight exaggeration)
So if I think that our son will make the 2024 Olympics. I don’t know. What I do know is that he will have to put his Education first.He has a better chance at getting into a great University with great grades. If he has mastered the balance between his passion and his future, then I will still wake-up, wake him up, feed him, drive him to practice, until he needs me to.