Gartrell: 'Middle-distance best for Indian swimmers'

Peter Gartrell, who's coached many renowned swimmers, including Olympic bronze medallist Justin Lemberg and Commonwealth Games gold winner Remy Fairweather, predicts an Indian swimmer can qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Australian swimming coach Peter Gartrell (left) with Glenn Saldanha of Glenmark Aquatic Foundation.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Peter Gartrell oozes wisdom when he talks about raising the profile of Indian swimming. At 68, this noted Australian coach is here to play his part in taking Indian swimmers to the next level.

“India’s best chance will be in middle-distance, not sprints. But it must be remembered that it’s a continuous process and we have to be patient for the results. Swimming is a tough sport. One has to train for five hours a day, six days a week for years to be able to perform at the highest level."

“As things stand, Indians swimmers do not meet the ‘A’ or B’ qualifying times set for the Olympics. It is not going to happen overnight. At best, by the 2020 Olympics, we can have a qualifier or two. But by the 2024 Olympics, India can hope for better results, should the process go on as planned,” says the man who has over 40 years of experience in training World and Olympic-bound swimmers.

“Indians have better frames than many Asians, to be good swimmers. It is equally important to prepare them competitively, with all the scientific and technical support.”

-PETER GARTRELL


Coach of Olympic bronze medallist
Justin Lemberg and Commonwealth Games gold winner Remy Fairweather, Gartrell is clear that “Indians have better frames than many Asians, to be good swimmers. It is equally important to prepare them competitively, with all the scientific and technical support.”

Gartrell with soon be stationed in the national capital’s Sports Authority of India (SAI) National Swimming Academy at the Talkatora Swimming pool. The Aussie veteran is here at the behest of Glenmark Aquatic Foundation (GAF), which has signed an agreement for Talent Identification Development and Management (TIDM) with the SAI. The GAF also has a centre in Dharavi, Mumbai.

Presently, 42 trainees — mainly in the age-group of 13-17 — have been chosen to train here. “We select these from those who do well in the National sub-junior and junior championships, besides those who show potential to become good. Of course, what I see is that Indian parents pamper their kids a lot. To make champions, this has to stop and some tough methods are adopted. And a certain level of screening is needed to send back those who are not showing the desired commitment to training hard. I think, we can have up to 50 trainees at a time and then see how they shape up,” he said.

Gartrell is planning to take some of the selected trainees with him to Australia for competitions involving age-group champions of the host nation. “Competition against quality swimmers is important for growth."

Glenn Sladanah, the trustee of
the GAF, was optimistic about the efforts initiated by Glenmark Pharmaceutical Ltd under its CSR intiative.

“No doubt, we have challenges of a different kind but we are not here to quit. We are here to do our best as we go long and also set up a centre each in south India (preferably Bangaluru) and in the east. Our results in the past 18 months have been very encouraging. We are also aware that we have a long, long way to go. With Gartrell and a dedicated team on board, I’m sure Indian swimming has reasons to be optimistic.”