Jharkhand swimmers practise on the ground!

By Nityanand Shukla, IANS,

Ranchi : With less than a month to go before Jharkhand hosts the 34th National Games, the state’s swimming team still does not have a swimming pool to practise in. Instead, the swimmers are ‘practising’ inside a flat here, where they lie on the ground and thrash about as if in water!

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Not only that, more than half of the 40-member strong contingent hasn’t even seen a swimming pool in their lives. Having grown up swimming in lakes and ponds of their native villages, the sportspersons are innocent of inventions like swimming pools.

These boys and girls would be lucky if they are able to catch a glimpse of a swimming pool before the National Games begin. The event will be held from Feb 12-26.

“The swimming training camp has been organised here to train us for swimming. In the training, we were asked to practice on the ground by waiving our hands as we do in water,” a player said not wishing to be named.

Several players said the so-called camp has left them demoralised, and the prospect of winning medals seems remote.

The authorities, meanwhile, are disarming with their honesty.

“The swimming discipline’s situation in Jharkhand is the worst. The Jharkhand Swimming Association has no swimming pool and there are no permanent coaches for swimmers,” a member of the swimming body told IANS.

The other sporting bodies too haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory.

In fact, such lack of preparation and infrastructure is chronic across the state’s sporting federations. The Jharkhand Athletics Association, for example, has yet to start the camp for athletics.

Reacting to the delay in camps, spokesperson of the Jharkhand Olympic Association (JOA) Madhukant Pathak maintained that the state government had made adequate arrangements for all sports, including swimming.

Officials say even though the swimming pools at games venue Khel Gaon are ready, they cannot be made available to the state’s players as the facilities have to be maintained in an excellent condition before the games begin.

The 34th National Games were awarded to Jharkhand in 2003 and were originally scheduled for 2007.

The dates were then postponed six times due to lack of infrastructure.

Jharkhand, where cricket and hockey are the popular sports, has not distinguished itself in swimming either nationally or internationally. And as long as swimming camps are held in flats, it seems that won’t happen for a long time.