BENGALURU: Most of India’s elite swimmers, who were training in Bengaluru for an international meet, have not had access to the pool for the last three days after the Karnataka government ordered all pools to be shut due to a rise in Covid-19 cases. The closure of the pools has hampered the preparation of athletes like Srihari Nataraj who is yet to compete internationally since lockdown last March.
However, there could be some relief for the swimmers after the Karnataka Swimming Association president Gopal Hosur and secretary Satish Kumar met chief minister BS Yeddiyurappa and health minister K Sudhakar on Monday. KSA are expecting an official order on Tuesday and remain hopeful of a positive outcome.
“We met the state CM and health minister. I told them that there are Olympic swimmers training here and closing of pools affects the sportsmen. If they miss coaching for a single day also, their programs get upset too,” said Hosur. “There is no need to permit swimming for fun, but they should at least permit the competitive swimmers. The KSA will ensure that all the SOPs are followed by everyone concerned. Even states like Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, which also have cases on rise, have not shut down pools.”
The Swimming Federation of India is keeping a close tab on the situation and secretary Monal Chokshi has been in touch with the KSA officials, who have assured them that at least elite swimmers will be given permission to train.
“I spoke to the KSA president Hosur, and they have been given assurance that the competitive training will be permitted. If nothing else, at least for this group of swimmers in Bengaluru, who will travel internationally, their training will not be interrupted. If some relaxation or some sp ecific order can be secured, well and good for everyone,” said Choksi.
Around 300-400 swimmers, coaches and members of different clubs along with owners of pools also gathered at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium to appeal to the government to reopen pools as well. This has been a horrendous year for swimmers in terms of training and competitions. The pools were the last of the lot to be open for training and when it comes to nationals, both senior and age-group nothing was possible.