CHENNAI: Reinvent. In short, it is what the Swimming Federation of India (SFI) wants to do in the next few years.
The federation announced on Tuesday its long-term road map which includes setting up of a national talent pool, investing in high-performance technology and having around 3000 coaches in five years. The aim is to taste success in the 2022 Asian and Commonwealth Games leading up to the 2024 and 2028 Olympics and beyond.
The SFI also announced a five-year partnership with Australian sports education and consultation company Moregold Sports, to improve competitive coaching in India.
In its bid to identify young talent, the federation will form six zones across the country and set up a zonal talent identification task force. Designated coaches in each zone will act as talent scouts and visit academies and competitions.
"We want to standardise the talent identification matrix and protocol based on expert advise on sports science," said SFI secretary-general Monal Chokshi during a virtual press conference on Tuesday.
"Focus is on early monitoring of potential at the grassroots and help them improve through sports science resources to have maximum impact for the long term. Swimmers will be identified on performance over a year and not on medals. This talent pool will have those who are not in TOPS, Development Group and Khelo India funding." Chokshi added that a detailed document developed jointly with Sports Authority of India (SAI) will be released shortly.
With regards to infrastructure, SFI has plans to invest in advanced technology such as high-tech wearable for individual workout analysis, biomechanics and race analysis equipment. The SFI feels many pools across the country are not up to FINA (international federation) standards. "In 2019, we visited seven centres and identified what needs to be improved. It is to upgrade the pools and not create a new facility," elaborated Chokshi.
Competitions unlikely this year
The SFI executive director Virendra Nanavati ruled out the possibility of having competitions this year since all state governments are yet to reopen pools to restart training. Though the Ministry of Home Affairs recently announced pools will be reopened for competitive training from October 15, not all states have given the nod. Gujarat and Karnataka might open this week, but states like Maharashtra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu might reopen later.
"On October 15, not all pools will open, maybe one or two. Pools are maintained by clubs, state governments etc. So it would not be possible to conduct national competitions if all states do not allow reopening of pools," Nanavati said. "We have to wait for four-five months and see if it is possible to have competitions."
The SFI is also ready to support swimmers if they want to travel to other states to restart training.