Bangalore: Swimming has always been a marginalized sport in India not having got the kind of sponsorships and infrastructural support that it really needs or deserves. One swim centre in Karnataka has been plugging away at producing some of the country's top swimming talent pool and the man behind these swimmers is coach Nihar Ameen. For long hours every week India's swimming hopefuls train under coach Nihar Ameen's watchful eyes, this year has begun particularly well as two of his protÃÂ©gÃÂ©s, Rehan Poncha and Shikha Tandon have come out with outstanding performances at the National Games in Hyderabad. Ameen's earlier students who excelled in the pool included Abhijit, Hakimuddin, Nisha Millet, Rohan D'Souza, Reshma Millet and Meghna Narayan. Nihar gave up a plum assignment in Florida in USA as a coach in the early nineties and returned to head this swim centre in Bangalore since 1994 and he hasn't looked back since. "When an athlete of mine performs at the highest level and I see them breaking national records, I feel rewarded and that's what drives me more than anything else," said Nihar Ameen, Programme Director, K C Reddy Swimming Centre. On being asked what he concentrates on as a coach, Ameen said, "On every aspect really, it's all very scientific. I've had a lot of experience abroad. I've coached with some of the finest programmes and I had the opportunity of working for four years with one of the Olympic coaches Jack Nelson at Fort Lauderdale in the United States. I have also been involved in this for 22 years and have picked up a few tips along the way. That's really the reason why I do it, because I have so much to give these young athletes." Asked when India would actually produce an Olympian, Nihar remarked, "Well I think it's probably two things. We need to have a larger talent pool which we certainly don't have in this country. A country like China for example has about 650,000 competitive swimmers and the United States is very close to that and we barely have two and half registered competitive athletes. The difference is that stark. I would like to see an Olympic gold medallist or a world champion from India, till that day comes I don't think my job will be complete." The centre where he coaches has scooped up 200 national medals and 75 new national records since its inception.
Topics : Swimming