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Dedication and commitment essential for swimming to improve

SWIMMING: Dedication and commitment by swimmers, synchronised swimmers and coaches and support of the Sri Lanka Aquatic Sports Union is greatly required to reach top at international level. Standards in swimming have improved although not sufficiently. But this may be due to many reasons. Each sport has its ups and downs and I am sure it will continue improving in all factors said Julian Bandaranayake-nee de Saram who has represented the country at Indo-Ceylon swimming. She was also a very elegant participant in synchronised swimming.

Julian, sister of famous Commonwealth Games swimmer Mrs. Margaret Patel is presently involved in swimming teaching and to a certain extent coaching in order to prepare a swimmer for the advanced swimming and synchronises swimming training.

In my swimming teaching programme, you have to be able to feel at ease in the water not only in a pool environment, but also in the river and sea. The swimmers should be strong and fast with good endurance base. They should spend time training accurately on basic swimming skills.

Julian is very keen on synchronised swimming, the sport which was little known earlier. Thanks go out to Mrs. Janaki Wickremasinghe who made it a part of swimming along with diving and waterpolo.

Synchronised swimming categorised as one of the more difficult sport-excellence in many different disciplines is necessary. The swimmers have to be in training as a speed swimmer to keep a high level of stamina and strength at optimum level. The swimmer has to build up the ability to stay underwater for fairly long periods, even though physically tired, so many different moves are made above and below the surface in order to make a routine. Synchronised swimming demands physical challenges.

This sport combines many different disciplines one has to be a good quality swimmer in training, follow land training for strength and more on the gymnasts level of strength, body control and flexibility, creativity, choreography and manner of presenting where one has to combine dance and music too.

Julian who worked hard as the first Synchronised Swimming Director said that judging the sport carries its own challenges. "I believe the judges too play a vital role in the development of this sport as the scores give the correct feed back to the synchronised swimming participant.

Strict schedules needed

Sri Lanka swimmers don't have enough international exposure. Our swimmers should be offered the chance to witness the standards of international swimmers and learn from them. Then gradually our standards will rise. "If one compares our swimmers with international swimmers, we're way below", said Conrad Francis, former Josephian and Sri Lanka swimmer who has established over a hundreds records up to now. He is current record holder in the butterfly stroke and Breast stroke events.

Conrad is here on a holiday from Australia. He is currently following sports science Management degree and he will graduate this year. He will go for further studies in Masters and Business Management.

Sri Lanka Aquatic Sports Union should strive hard to send the top and talented swimmers to participate at international meets. There are good and strong swimmers at present. They should follow a strict schedule and maintain a good physique to keep in good shape. They should not become unsteady from the schedules. Swimmers also must train daily on weekdays about eight to nine sessions and do a few gym sessions. Apart from that, the swimmers should maintain a strict diet and have weekly physiotherapy sessions.

Conrad who has represented Sri Lanka at two Olympics-Athens and Sydney has become the only swimmer to bring honour winning the most number of gold medals at Asian meets APAGSC, SAF Games. He said that if swimmers want to succeed there should be dedication. It's they should work hard to gain success. Swimmers should not have late nights. If swimmers show commitment and responsibility it pays off.

Fitness vital

Fitness is a must for any sport and in swimming one has to pay special attention to fitness, techniques and tactics. Hard training with devotion and dedication towards the sport also is important said Gihan Ranatunga, former Thomian and Sri Lanka swimmer and diver - a double international.

Gihan said that he kept on going making plenty of sacrifices to be on the pedestal. He used to be at the pool side at 5 a.m. It is only when the exams were round the corner that he used to limit his training which otherwise is strictly 16 hours per week, including exercising at the gymnasium.

He said that a balance has to be maintained among training, studies, social life and other activities.

Gihan has brought credit to Sri Lanka in both swimming and diving at APAGSC, Asian Aquatic Championships and SAF Games. Presently he is attached to Hong Kong Bank as Assistant Manager Operation.

He said that competitive swimming and diving at international level demands hard work and guts too, as one has to put behind setbacks and focus one's attention on events to be completed.

Gihan said that he paid special attention to fitness, techniques and tactics to reach the top.

His advice to young swimmers and divers: Fitness, skills, techniques, tactics should be followed. Mental alertness is also equally important added Gihan.

No improvement

In Aquatic Sports, especially swimming, there is no improvement. The swimmers have to improve their technical skills for better results. Despite competing in all events, that too at home, the performances do not look impress said Menaka de Silva, former St. Bridget's Convent, and Athens Olympic Games swimmer who is here on holiday from Melbourne, Australia.

For improvement of swimming, the swimmers should train hard to record good timings. There should be time for tapering, recovery time and very important aspect is proper mental ability.

Menaka who is following a degree in sports science in Melbourne, added that the controlling body (SLASU) and the coaches should get together and train the swimmers so that they will reach a good position in the international scene. The controlling body should organise more swimming clinics and coaching camps to help the swimmers.

For example take the other Asian countries - China, Japan, India have indeed set very demanding standards for swimming. So SLASU should get involved more on promotion of swimming.

Menaka who has represented the country at several international meets, APAGSC, SAF Games, FINA World Swimming Championships, Asian Championships is also a good waterpolo player, netballer and an athlete.

Permanent training centres needed

Sri Lanka Aquatic Sports Union together with the Sports Ministry should plan to have a permanent residential aquatic training centres in Colombo and the outstations for swimming to improve in the country. If the two get-to-gether, the sport is bound to improve.

Then the swimmers are benefit and produce good results said Tehani Weerasinghe, a former Sri Lanka swimmer who was here on a holiday from Canada.

The Colombo centre should be at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium and the outstation centre at the University of Peradeniya Sports Complex in the Kandy District.

For this project, a lot of money is required. Sports Ministry should support in a big way. Funds could also be got from benefactors of aquatic sports and also from FINA world controlling body for the sport.

Furthermore the controlling body could also organise swimming camps and swimming coaches clinics regularly.

The SLASU should take steps to hold advanced coaches clinic in all districts to help coaches in swimming, diving, water polo and synchronised swimming.

 

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Produced by Lake House Copyright 2007 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

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