Swimmers trying to stay calm in troubled times

Some swimmers manage to find a way, others feel it’s a hopeless situation.

Sanaa Mathew has moved to the under-18 age-group and she is very disappointed with the competitions she has missed.   -  Special Arrangement

Not again! That's probably what every swimmer would have felt like when most states came up with the recent lockdown to contain the second wave of the coronavirus.

Swimming was probably the last sport to open last year and now the fear is that swimmers would have to go through that painful cycle all over again.

“It’s sort of hopeless right now, I want to come out of it,” said Sanaa Mathew who holds all the women’s backstroke records in Kerala. “I was feeling restless last year, now it has come again.... looks never ending.”

Sanaa, 15, has moved to the under-18 age-group and she is very disappointed with the competitions she has missed.

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The missed opportunities

“In juniors, the years count. I missed my first year in the junior Group-1 and now this will be my second year,” said Sanaa, who trains at Kochi's Regional Sports Centre.

The young girl used to run at home during the last year's lockdown and towards the end of the year, she trained in her neighbour's pool for a couple of months.

She was thrilled when she was able to resume training at the RSC in January and till April. But now, with the lockdown, it's back to uncertain days.

“Early this year, I thought we would have competitions but right now, looking at the situation, I don't think there's much hope because the case load is getting worse,” said Sanaa.

“We used to have goals, like this record or a medal at the Nationals but with the situation as it is now, you can't think of setting any goals.”

Shreya Mary Kamal, another young talent, has found a way to stay calm during these stressful times.

“I do yoga in the morning and other workouts in the evening so I don't lose my shape or whatever. And I don't think too much, when you think too much you get depressed,” said Shreya, who had a five-gold haul, including records in two indivual medley events, at the last State meet in 2019.

A six-month move from Kochi to Bengaluru's Padukone-Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence transformed her.

“There was a lot of difference in coaching there. And even in swimming, you need to do a workout, go to the gym and all. In Kerala, there's nothing like that, it's just swimming. In Bengaluru, they used to focus on everything, you can learn more stuff there, it's such an experience. So, I'm able to handle the lockdown better this time than last year,” said Shreya, from Hyderabad where she trained recently before the lockdown closed pools there.

Shreya Mary Kamal has found a way to stay calm during these stressful times.


Finding a way

But breast stroke swimmer S. Suneesh found a way to swim even during the lockdown.

“I used to runs 20 to 25kms thrice a week but once or twice a week, I used to swim at the TRAC club pool at Karumam near my home,” said Suneesh, from Thiruvananthapuram.

“I train alone there. It's actually a 50m pool but filled with pond water.”

He participated in the Karnataka State meet in March and had plans to to Malaysia, Dubai and Singapore for competitions but all of them got postponed. “I wanted to know what form I was in before the Nationals,” he explained.

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