Fifty-three-year-old S. Pradeep Kumar, the current National swimming coach, a Dronacharaya Award winner, who has trained many swimmers in our country and who has gone on to represent India in Olympics, was in city attending the Karnataka State Sub-junior and Junior Aquatic Championships 2018, at the University Swimming Pool. Star of Mysore caught up with him on the sidelines of the championships. Excerpts:
SOM: What do you think is the present scene in Indian swimming?
Pradeep Kumar (SPK): Indian swimming scene is not so encouraging at present. Our swimmers fare well in the Asian age group competitions but cannot match Olympic standards. They are not even near the ‘A’ qualifying mark of Olympics. To come to that standard we need better facilities, assistance from different corners with a lot more of financial back-up and support.
We should not compare our swimmers with those swimmers who are winning medals in Olympics. We need to introspect and look at the facilities provided to our swimmers. We should have a huge talent pool of swimmers from which we can choose the best. We should also have specialists in stroke technique, physiology, physical fitness, nutrition expert and video analyst to support the system.
SOM: How can we revamp the system?
SPK: Indian swimmers fare well up to some level and falter after that as they choose academics when they graduate to the senior level. Parents don’t continue to invest more money on swimming and this is where private funding is necessary to support quality and talented swimmers who have the potential to make it big.
Swimming Federation of India and the government alone cannot do everything as they are doing their best for swimmers. But corporates need to chip in more and contribute so that funds flow in. Then infrastructure can be developed and we can see the quality of swimmers will improve. Top class swimmers need to train under a long-term coach and also need proper exposure by taking part in stiffer competitions abroad often.
SOM: You are here in Mysuru and how is the talent pool?
SPK: There are some promising swimmers like Srihari Natraj (Group I) and Tanish George Mathew (both from Bangalore Swimming Research Centre). They need to work with more dedication to come up to international standards. Many of my trainees are in action and I am here to take note of their performance and assess their talent.