Asian Games Swimming federation to the rescue as organisers give no time for acclimatisation


Hangzhou (China), Sep 21 : A late rule change by the Organising Committee of the Hangzhou Asian Games which restricted the pre-event accommodation at the Games village had nearly derailed the Swimming Federation of India's (SFI) plans to allow the Indian swimmers enough time to get acclimatized to the conditions before the Games opened on September 23. In the end, SFI had to bail out the team and fork out the money to help them hold a small acclimatisation camp in China and prepare for the 19th Asian Games. However, their plans had nearly come unstuck as the Organising Committee of Hangzhou Asian Games decided to open the Asian Games Athletes Village facility only three days before the opening ceremony, instead of five days as was decided earlier. It is a norm that village facilities for such mega events are provided a few days earlier so players can acclimate. Though the organisers did provide accommodation facilities for those sportspersons whose events started on September 19, aquatics, of which swimming is a part, was not one of them as it is scheduled to only on September 24. With head coach Nihar Ameen's planning a camp from September 17, the Swimming Federation of India stepped in and forked out money to conduct it at Chongqing, which is one of the four municipalities under the control of the Chinese government and thus has very good facilities. Thus, the team held a camp at Chongqing from September 17 and moved to Hangzhou on Thursday (September 21) to settle at the Asian Games Athletes Village. "The swimming contingent reached Hangzhou today from the acclimatisation venue in ChongqingChina where the team reached on September 17. Holding camp was decided by SFI on account of the change in games village policy to 3 days instead of 5 days," SFI General Secretary Monal Choksi said in a message on Thursday. Choksi said they were informed about this policy change only four weeks back and decided to go ahead with the camp for 21 swimmers and two divers at SFI's cost. The SFI has put in place an ambitious plan for swimming in India and has picked a strong contingent of 9 female and 12 male swimmers -- almost double the numbers that participated in the previous Asian Games in Indonesia in 2018. It has high hopes from the likes of Srihari Nataraj, Sajan Prakash, Manaa Patel and Virdhawal Khade. In the young squad, only Khade is an Asian Games medallist, having won a bronze way back in 2010. Sandeep Sejwal is the last Indian swimmer to win a medal in Asian Games as he bagged a bronze in men's 50m freestyle in 2014. The SFI is expecting to bag a few medals at Hangzhou and has therefore invested in organising the acclimatisation camp. /IANS




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