Swimmers may be moved to Delhi due to Covid-19 restrictions

By Navneet Singh
New Delhi, April 5 (IANS) The Swimming Federation of India (SFI) plans to shift Uzbekistan bound 13-member national team to Delhi from Bengaluru in case swimming pools don’t reopen on Tuesday, says SFI secretary general Monal Chokshi.

The team includes Bengaluru-based Srihari Nataraj, an Olympics hopeful in 100 metres backstroke.

Last week, the Karnataka government had issued fresh guidelines after Covid-19 cases surged in the state. It closed down swimming pools from Friday, hampering training of the national squad supposed to leave this week for an international competition starting from April 12 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

“We made a representation to Karnataka’s sports department in Bengaluru on Monday requesting them to reopen the pools for elite swimmers. We have got [verbal] assurance. In case our request is turned down, we might have to shift the team to Delhi for three-four days where the pools are functioning at the moment,” Chokshi told IANS.

According to Chokshi, since the situation is unpredictable at the moment, the federation is unable to take a concrete decision regarding training of elite swimmers as well as organising an exposure tour.

“We have plans to send them abroad in May. But there is lockdown in Italy, France and other parts of Europe. So we are following the situation,” he said.

Friday was the last training session of the national team at Bengaluru’s Padukone Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence. But Saturday and Sunday were off days.

“Technically, the swimmers have missed training only on Monday. We are hopeful pools will open on Tuesday for training,” said Chokshi.

Six swimmers have achieved ‘B’ qualification marks in their respective events. Since ‘A’ qualification guarantees automatic berth, Nataraj is aiming to achieve good time in 100m backstroke events in near future.

Kushagra Rawat, Advait Page, Sajan Prakash, Aryan Makhija and Vidhawal Khade are the others who have achieved ‘B’ qualification time in their respective events. Except Khade and Nataraj, others are training abroad.

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