Dronacharya Awardee, coach S Pradeep Kumar says we need a lot more support for Indian swimmers, better facilities

Swimming national coach S Pradeep Kumar, who received the Dronacharya Award on monday, said that India needs better facilities and lot more support to get anywhere near the best.he further added that at this moment India’s performance should be compared with the Asian timings rather than the World ones.

S Pradeep Kumar, who has been the face of Indian swimming as the coach guiding young and upcoming swimmers for a long time. Kumar has been preparing these budding athletes from all age-group years and into the Indian teams for various international competitions.

“If you have to compare our swimmers with those from the countries that make the semifinals and finals of Olympics, you have to also compare all the facilities and support that those swimmers receive. We are nowhere near any of them,” Kumar said. “At the level, India is at the moment, you could compare with the Asian standards and how many swimmers from Asia qualify for the semifinals and finals.

At Rio Olympics, S Pradeep Kumar accompanied Sajan Prakash (men’s 200m butterfly) and Shivani Kataria (women’s 200m freestyle) hoping for a creditable performance from the duo. Sajan Prakash finished 28th overall in the heats with a timing 1:59.37, while 18-year-old Shivani Kataria finished 41st overall with a timing of 2:09:30.

Although we weren’t able to grap any medal although yet Kumar feels that India can get there one day with better facilities and lot more support.

“Indian swimmers are not even anywhere near the ‘A’ qualifying mark for the Olympics. We are not up to that standard yet. That requires a lot of other things. To come to that level, you need better facilities, assistance from all corners, a lot more funding and a lot more support,” Kumar added. “we need to challenge our swimmers with all those who have the best of facilities, all the scientific system of training, etc,” he added.

If you have to compare our swimmers with those from the countries that make the semifinals and finals of Olympics, you have to also compare all the facilities and support that those swimmers receive. We are nowhere near any of them,” Kumar said. “At the level, India is at the moment, you could compare with the Asian standards and how many swimmers from Asia qualify for the semifinals and finals.

He firmly believes that our swimmers need a constant challenge to have their interest stay with them apart from the best of facilities and scientifically systematic training.

“You look at the women’s finals. Hardly women from Asia except a handful from Japan and one or two from China made it. Among men, probably one from Singapore and a couple from Japan and China did well. Other than them, there have not been many from Asia in the Olympics finals. To come to that level, we need to challenge our swimmers with all those who have the best of facilities, all the scientific system of training, etc,” he added.

Reflecting on the Dronacharya award, Kumar owes the recognition to the hard work of many people and not just his, “It is a time to rejoice in the sense that whatever I have done being is recognised. I am happy about it. More than what I have done, it is a recognition for the Basavanagudi Aquatic Centre (in Bengaluru, where he has been coaching for about three decades) is recognised, the swimmers’ and their parents’ hard work. It is not just my effort.”

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