Realising the importance of adopting a focused and systematic approach to raise the country's overall standard, the Swimming Federation of India (SFI) has set a target of preparing the promising swimmers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The SFI has sent a list of foreign coaches to the Sports Ministry for its approval and hopes to hire their services from early next year to groom the youngsters. “We have began our preparations for the 2020 Olympics. We are planning to have foreign coaches and will select four-five swimmers who can be trained for the 2020 Games,” SFI secretary Kamlesh Nanavati told Sportstar at the National aquatics championship here.

“One top foreign coach will train only the core group, while others will train the next line of swimmers. We have given names of three-four coaches to the Government and they have to approve the names as they will be paying the foreign coaches. The Glenmark Foundation will also help the SFI in this regard.”

According to Nanavati, the SFI is keen on opening regional centres to provide platforms to budding talent. “We are planning to spread out so that swimmers do not have to travel from one corner of the country to another. The centre (S.P. Mukherjee swimming pool) in Delhi has already started functioning and we are looking at the possibility of setting up centres in East, perhaps at the South Asian Games venue in Assam, South (may be one in Tamil Nadu) and in Ahmedabad or Gandhinagar in West.

“One of the expert coaches from Japan recently visited different centres, checked various facilities and shared his ideas as to how things can be improved...The Sports Authority of India (SAI) Director General, Injeti Srinivas, is interested to improve the standard of our swimmers and we have his support.”

Nanavati said the SFI would back talented youngsters to do well in the next Asian Games. “Of late we have been getting medals from the Asian Games and will prepare our swimmers to get two-three medals from the Asian Games in two years' time,” he said.