Through this column of your reputed newspaper, I would like to draw the attention of the Central Government and the Assam Government towards the decision of reopening of swimming pools in India. Swimming pools have been closed due to lockdown from March till date. The swimming fraternity, including swimmers, coaches, trainers, life gaurds, pool maintenance staff and pool owners are badly affected. Most of them who were having lively income from their profession are now not earning as swimming pools remain closed from last the last five months. And the saddest part is that no one is bothering about them. As we are looking with hope till Unlock 3.0 but still there are no updates.
There are around 30 to 40 swimming pools in Assam (including private, public, schools & hotel pools) and around 200 people are professionally engaged in them to earn their livelihood. Around 500 competitive swimmers of Assam have also been suffering the most.
According to reports, there is no evidence that the coronavirus spreads in water. The World Health Organization (WHO) says "swimming in well maintained and properly chlorinated pool is safe". The USA Swimming has mandated 2.0 ppm chlorine in pools, that level of chlorine will kill the virus. We all know that swimming keeps the body physically and mentally fit and healthy. A fit and healthy body is always blessed with a good immunity system which keeps one strong against the virus.
Now, the moot question is: When will pools open?
What will be the future of dedicated competitive swimmers of India? What's about the survival of the people associated with swimming pools? I think it is high time the government reopened pools for competitive swimmers as winter is approaching. Pools remains shut from December in East and North India.
The Union Sports and Youth Affairs Minister dreams of top 10 positions in 2028 Olympics, and in Assam the Olympic Association aims to win 25 gold medals in upcoming National Games but forgets that four disciplines – swimming, water polo, diving and synchronized swimming – related to swimming pools and aquatics have the highest number of Olympic events. It's very unfair to keep our swimmers away from pools.
What can be done?
Swimming can be allowed along with the same SOPs as is the case with other sports with 30% to 60% capacity in 25m and 50m swimming pool respectively. Not more than three swimmers in a lane are to be allowed. The pools must be opened for competitive swimmers and for Indian elite swimmers for practice. And also for recreational swimmers so that maintenance cost of private pools can be earned form recreational swimmers' fees.
As most of the countries like the USA, the UK, Ireland, Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Srilanka, Mongalia etc have already reopened pools for public with 30% to 60% capacity in 25m & 50m pools respectively.
Through this letter, I would like request the Union Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs and the Department of Sports and Youth Affairs in Assam to take the issue with importance and reopen pools after August 15, 2020.
Kalyan Kishore Kashyap,
Swimming coach, Assam