Junior-Swimming In India Being Crushed By Swimming Federation

Being a swimmer in India is a tough thing. Much tougher than other being a sportsperson in any other sports. Besides the obvious comparison, of how other sports like cricket, badminton or for that matter even Kabaddi are given more preference, and so on; there is much more that an Indian swimmer has to battle with on a day-to-day basis.  And it is not just infrastructure, the lack of good pools or great coaches or financial support, it is the apathy of the government and the sports bodies.

The sad fact is that to be a competitive swimmer in India; in addition to oodles of talent, perseverance, fortitude, an individual also requires something as unfathomable as luck or divine benevolence. Because not only are the swimmers spending hours daily trying to scrape off 0.02 microsecond of their best times, but also to dance to the tunes of associations and swimming bodies that function in manner that can be at best described as whimsical.

Take the latest instance of how the Swimming Federation of India (SFI), the premier governing body for swimming in India has delivered a body-blow to junior swimmers. Every year, swimmers across the country compete first at district-levels and then state to be able to qualify for the National (Junior & Sub-Junior) competitions. Thousands of swimmers practice the hardest as its their one chance to shine in the sports, considering how few such competitions are conducted. Given the humungous amount of enthusiasm and talent, the competitions are really fought hard and with fervour at the junior levels. It is only at the senior levels that you see the numbers dropping drastically, largely due to academics or just want for better opportunity.

Given the fact that one sees the maximum numbers at junior levels; shouldn’t the SFI do more to promote it. To find new talent, raw talent and nurture it to greatness?

For the past couple of years, there have been talks of how the SFI wants to merge these 4 age-groups into 3. The reasoning, apparently, is ease of conducting the competitions. The objective apparently is to make things easy for the babus.

So swimmers across the board were surprised when a notification from SFI floated across the Internet, talking about how the age groups had been merged into 3 categories.   The swimming sports body has revamped the age brackets as follows: Group I (15 To 17 Years), Group II (12 – 14 years), and Group III (9 – 11 years). While it might not seem much different on first look, but a closer examination makes it clear as to how younger swimmers have been short-changed in the revamp.  While the elder group (15-17 years) has been retained as is, the other groups are now 3-year groupings instead of two. So, a 9-year-old girl or boy will now have to compete against a 10 and 11-year-old. And a 12-year-old will have to face off against a 13 and a 14-year-old

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