Jorhat, June 19: Buoyed by the exceptional performance of swimmers in the recently concluded ONGC Cup inter-district swimming championship held here, organisers of Jorhat Swimming Society is trying to build a four-lane swimming pool where water can be heated and swimmers can practise throughout the year.
Samiran Bordoloi, secretary of the society and former president of Assam Swimming Association, said two of the swimmers — Bhargav Phukan of Guwahati and Bikram Changmai of Jorhat — had clocked better than the national record of 39.99 seconds in the 50metre breast stroke event. This proved that the state has world class swimmers, he added. Bhargav had clocked 39.13 seconds while Bikram had clocked 39.88 seconds.
“Swimmers who are coached by our society in the Olympics-dimension swimming pool here have consistently brought home a few gold and silver medals and a number of bronze medals in state and national meets. After this, we would like to take them a step ahead to compete at the international level, but because of the climate, practice is interrupted for five to six months and this is a major hurdle,” he said.
Bordoloi said that in places like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and other south Indian states, the moderate winter allows yearlong practice which helps the swimmers keep their muscles and sinews toned.
“Here even a week’s gap results in poor fitness levels and if the gap becomes longer then for a swimmer the cardiovascular fitness really suffers,” he said.
Though the state government had built a world class swimming pool in the Zakir Hussain Aquatic Complex in the Sarusajai Sports Complex in Guwahati, repeated requests from the swimming fraternity for heating system and under-water lighting facility have fallen on deaf ears.
Sources in the sports department said the original project report of the pool had the facilities. However, those were removed from the project at the behest of a panel formed by the government to negotiate the cost of construction of the infrastructure created for the 33rd National Games.
Last year, the society had prepared a project proposal for construction of a four-lane swimming pool into which warm water could be pumped alongside the main swimming pool situated near the Jorhat indoor stadium, and submitted it to the DoNER ministry through the state sports department.
“We are hopeful that this year the proposal will get the approval,” he said.
The society is also hopeful that the government would set up a hostel so that those who cannot afford to come daily from the rural areas can be lodged and practise without interruption. Also, swimmers from other parts of the state who have potential can stay and practise at the 50m swimming pool here. “We have immense talent in our rural and suburban areas but they cannot come here on a daily basis. Moreover, they can be given nutritious food at the hostel so that along with the practice, they can build muscle power and bone,” he further said.
Bordoloi said ONGC, Assam and Assam Arakan Basin headquarters here had sponsored the inter-district tournament and donated an amount for the construction of the pool and other amenities. In reciprocation, ONGC employees have been made corporate members.