Children shun exercises but jump at the prospect of swimming

Wish to have to your cake and eat it too? Take a dive into the cool water of a pool and burn the extra calories while protecting your body from the scorching summer heat. A few decades ago not many parents were interested in sending their children to swimming classes. They were worried about the safety of their children. With the sport gaining national and international recognition, many parents are now evincing keen interest in initiating their children into swimming from a young age.Interestingly, though there are hardly any facilities to learn swimming in the villages, many kids take the plunge into ponds and other water bodies on the encouragement of their friends. It's a different matter that most of these children are content with keeping themselves afloat on water and rarely set their sights on learning different techniques and participating in competitions.

Irresistible exercise

Children may shun other forms of physical training but they find a dip in the pool irresistible especially during summer holidays. Once they become expert swimmers they can participate in competitions at the district, State, national and international levels or they can even take up careers in diving, which are highly rewarding."Ability to swim fast and perfect techniques are the basic prerequisites for a person to become a good swimmer," said Richard Quick, an American swimming coach who gave tips to budding swimmers at an event organised by the YMCA at the Aqua Sports Complex of Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation on the Beach Road recently."Pools of 25-metre length are enough to train swimmers and to draw people towards the sport," he said. Incidentally, Mr. Quick had learnt swimming at the YMCA pool in the US.There are quite a few pools in the city that offer training in swimming to children, women and men. But the ones which have been offering training to the public on a continual basis for the last several years include: the Aqua Sports Complex and Dolphin Hotel. The other pools like Waltair Club, Rail Club, Navy, Steel Plant, HPCL and Palm Beach have restricted entry.The monthly membership fee for those who learn swimming at the Aqua Sports Complex is Rs.500 for adults and Rs.250 for children. The complex, which meets international pool standards, has produced about 10 national champions at the junior level.

Save lives

"One has to undergo training for three to five years to participate and win in national-level events," says M. Sanjeevan Nair, coach and president of the Rashtriya Life Saving Society. "The boys trained by me are working as lifeguards at Rushikonda Beach. They have saved about 90 lives in the last three years. One of them Ch. Demudu has represented India at the International Life Saving Competitions held at Australia." Recalling Mr. Richard Quick's observations, Mr. Nair said: "India definitely has a fair chance of producing many national and international champions, if more boys and girls take to the water and pursue training rigorously. While there are about 500 persons training for competitions at each pool in the US, those undergoing competitive training in the whole of Vizag is only about 100. Bangalore has very good swimming pools and coaches and more trainees".He felt that there should be separate timings for competitive swimmers at the Aqua Sports Complex. Though a representation was given to the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation in the past, no action has been taken so far, he said."Swimming is the best exercise in water, and a must for everybody. An obese person can skip in water for a 1,000 times, which he cannot on land. While there would be no pressure on his/her ankle or knees, he/she still loses weight. It provides flexibility to all parts of the body," says C. Kishen Chand, a swimming coach who has trained many learners during the last two decades.nm "While a person who exercises at a gym sweats a lot and feels irritated after the workout, the swimmer also perspires but does not experience irritation as the water in the pool wipes of the sweat immediately and it gives him a cool feeling in the hot summer. Swimming is also beneficial to people with arthritis and for patients who have been advised physiotherapy," he says.What more reasons do you need to take the plunge?B. MADHU GOPAL