Summer camps in swimming pools are a big draw with youngsters

Every summer, an increasing number of students opt for swimming classes. These camps not only train children but also help spot talent among them.

“The number of students at the 2004-2005 summer camp in Shenoy Nagar's swimming pool was 400. Last year, the number increased to 1,250. This year, we expect more,” said T. Chandrasekar, swimming coach and District Sports Officer, Chennai.

The city has many other swimming pools such as Anna Swimming Pool, Velachery Aquatic Complex and Corporation Swimming Pool on the Marina.

The pools controlled by the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu charge a fee of Rs.1,500 for the course. “We have qualified coaches from the National Institute of Sports, Patiala.

But some private swimming pools charge double the amount even though their trainers are not well qualified,” said Mr. Chandrasekar. The Sports Department uses the opportunity to identify talent, he added.

M.B. Balakrishnan, a South Asian Federation gold medallist and student of Anna University, says: “Chennai's climate is favourable for training throughout the year as winter is not severe. In north India, the pools are closed during winter,” says the youngster who was trained at the Shenoy Nagar pool. C. Ayshwarya, a SAF silver medallist, says: “The facilities in Chennai are better than that of other cities in the country.”

Corporation swimming coach Muniandi says many students were opting for swimming, seeing it as a means to get admitted to professional courses through the sports quota.

“The number of youths using the Marina swimming pool has increased considerably. We are taking measures to keep them in good shape,” said Rafiq Khan, a trainer at the Chennai Corporation Marina Swimming Pool.

The Corporation charges an entry fee of Rs.15 per hour from users of the pool. The summer special coaching classes are organised for a nominal fee of Rs.500.

The Corporation, in its 2010-2011 budget, announced importance to swimming with special training for a team to be constituted.

According to swimming coaches, the city has the potential to produce Olympic medallists as the momentum gained in swimming continues to grow.

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