Bangalore’s only 10-lane international standard swimming pool, the Ramakrishna Hegde pool, has come up in Mathikere, offering a wide range of aquatic services to residents of the city.

The pool, situated next to J.P. Park, was built by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahangara Palike (BBMP) and is managed by Dolphin Aquatics, after the pool was leased to Krishna Construction. Dolphin Aquatics is run by the country’s top swimming coach, Nihar Ameen: the dynamic coach has groomed several international swimmers such Olympians Nisha Millet, S.H. Hakimuddin, Shikha Tandon, Rehan Poncha and Meghana Narayan in the past, and his current crop of wards include India’s fastest swimmer, Virdhwal Khade, and breast stroke ace Sandeep Sejwal.

The show goes on

Nihar used to operate the now-defunct KC Reddy Swim Centre based in Sadashivnagar, and when KCR’s lease expired, he had a hard time training his wards. “That was a tough phase, because we were in midst of preparation for the 2010 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games,” recalls Nihar.

“Now it’s been exactly a year since we moved in and began managing the Mathikere pool. We did have teething problems as this was a new pool, but with the support of our local corporator and the public, we have overcome the initial problems, and have got our show going.”

In the last senior National championship at Pune, Dolphin wards garnered as many as 32 medals. “Dolphin is not a new club, in fact, it existed at least three decades ago and my father Shacoor Ameen was its president. We only revived that after KCR was shut down,” says Nihar.

Training hub

The Mathikere pool is poised to become a national-level training centre and swimmers from far and wide have come down to train here. “We have kids from a number of Statestraining here. Besides Sejwal and Khade, Anshual Kothari, Rohit Hawaldar, Ashwin Menon, Soni Cyriac and Shivani Kataria are some of the national swimmers who train here,” he says.

Nihar wants to take things to the next level. “We look forward to converting this into a state-of-the-art facility. We need to have a few more things like a warm-up pool to make this good enough for national competitions,” says the coach.

As a keen observer of the sport, Nihar feels Indian swimmers lack the scientific backing that can make them world class. “We need a full-time physiotherapist, a lot more exposure and biomechanics support. Moreover, our swimmers need to be exposed to more competitions at home. They just have the senior national, junior national and sub-junior national events — just three meets in a year, and it is quite a challenge to keep them motivated,” he points out.

The response to the pool is very good, says Nihar. “Children and adults, including women, come for training here and we have separate batches for them. During peak season, we had over 1,000 persons registered for our training and I expect the numbers to swell this summer.”

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