The numbers have risen enormously at city pools and this enthusiasm is likely to outlast the summer. T. Madhavan and Vipasha Sinha tell you why
A spate of drowning incidents in the suburbs during this summer underlines the need for swimming pools. The majority of the victims were children. They lost their lives while taking a dip in water-filled abandoned quarries, ponds and lakes. They had plunged into the waters to chill out. Clearly, the availability of swimming pools with reasonable membership charges in their neighbourhoods would have made all the difference.
On a less sombre note, though, the flurry of registrations for swimming classes in the city during summer also underscores the importance of pools. It is learnt that most city pools have increased their workforce to meet the summer demand.
Given this climate, pool managers don’t have to woo customers. But they do: both private and public pools place an enticing array of offers.
To give some examples: V.V. International School of Swimming, which has set up facilities in Nungambakkam, Kodambakkam and Mogappair, plays the free coaching card. The SDAT-run Velachery Acquatic Complex offers a special course for beginners conducted by coaches trained under National Institute of Sports.
Then, on a different platform, certain swimming pools welcome special children. Artvi Swiming Pool in Velachery has a programme tailored to special needs of children with dyslexia, autism and physical disabilities. MJL Swimming Pool on Camp Road, Selaiyur, has a special training module for hyperactive children. These initiatives are why enthusiasm for swimming will outlast the summer.
At VV International School of Swimming, K. Malathi Bhaskar is a harried person. The spurt in visitors, this summer, keeps her on her toes. “To meet the demand, we have increased the number of batches,” says the proprietor of this swimming school, which has pools in Mogappair, Kodambakkam and Nungambakkam.
“In addition to this, we have two extra trainers who would concentrate entirely on amateur swimmers,” she says. Keen on making the most of it, the school has come up with an attractive offer. “We have introduced a special summer offer, according to which free coaching is offered to anyone taking a year’s membership.”
The SDAT-run Velachery Aquatic Complex is also swimming with this tide. “We have a course, under which candidates are taught basic techniques of free style swimming such as gliding, kicking and arm action, by National Institute of Sports qualified swimming coaches. There is also a membership scheme for experienced swimmers and those who want to pursue swimming as a career. In this programme, we identify the ones with potential, train and motive them to compete at state and national level tournaments, says R. V. Veerabadran, a coach at the Complex. This pool is state-of-the-art and immensely equipped to train competitive swimmers. There are ten lanes that meet the various demands of competitive swimming.
Talking of an environment for competitive swimming, how can one ignore the Shenoy Nagar Swimming Pool? This SDAT-run facility offers Learn-to-Swim classes for neophytes. But here, amateurs don’t stay amateurs for long. “Talent searching is the mantra,” says T. Chandrasekaran, coach at Shenoy Nagar Swimming Pool. Members are being guided to take up swimming as a career. “Olympian Nisha Millet and Chennai’s famous swimmer Kutraleeswaran trained here,” he says. “The pool has produced three of the currently active international medallists – J. Agnishwar, M. B. Balakrishnan and C. Ayshwarya.
Turtles Swim School at TNCA Club in Chepauk also works towards making competitive swimmers. “We have regular meetings for parents, where they are briefed about the progress their children have made in swimming. Based on our inputs, parents can decide if they want to put their children in our extensive programme,” says B. Girish, head coach of Turtles Swim School. Girish takes swimming classes at Anna Swimming Pool (Napier's Bridge) and Velachery Aquatic Complex and TNCA Club (Chepauk).
The school offers a fast-track ‘learn to swim in 15 days’ programme that is open to people in all age groups. Another of its offerings is Elite Swimming Training meant for State, National and International Swimmers.”
Artvi Swimming Pool in Velachery treads a less travelled path: it has something to offer special kids, especially those with dyslexia and autism. “We have to be very patient and careful with these children. Depending upon their abilities, we train them. An experienced coach works with them on one-on-one basis and alters the training style, as he gets to understand their strengths and weaknesses,” says coach M. Nainar.
MJL Swimming Pool in Selaiyur works on hyperactive children. “We offer swimming classes for children that are known for hyperactivity. The special training is given under parental guidance and with their consent,” says M.J.L. Sureshbabu, Managing Director of the pool.
This apart, the school identifies three to four competitive swimmers every year and, once in five years, spot two to three swimmers with national level potential, to give them intenstive training, says Sureshbabu
Another category – probably the biggest – constitutes those who take to swimming for its fitness value. This group has people of all ages. “Swimming being an anti-gravity exercise, not too much stress is placed on any part of the body. It is a sport we can continue to enjoy even as we grow old,” says a regular at SDAT-Dolphin Swimming Academy, Mogappair West.
The reason to believe why the enthusiasm for swimming will not die down when summer is past.