The future of swimming post-Covid

You can replace a kettlebell with a water can, but what about a swimming pool? “We can’t recreate much,” laughs Nisha Millet, director of Bengaluru-based Nisha Millet Swimming Academy. But swimming coaches are trying to work their way around this, by concentrating on other components. “Focus on maintaining your strength and a good core, especially a strong back and shoulders,” says Manisha Khungar of Gurgaon’s Trifitness.

Fitso, a Gurgaon sports academy that has paused operations at its pools, has started online sessions to engage its members in dry-length body weight exercises (that need minimal to no equipment). “The stamina you need for running isn’t the same as for swimming. Nevertheless, these exercises will keep you active and in shape,” says co-founder Saurabh Aggarwal, a triathlete.

Eyes on the price

A number of countries are now allowing elite swimmers to take to the pool again, and trainers and swimmers in India are keeping a close eye on international developments. Institutes like Fitso are focussing on selling memberships at discounted rates, which can be put to good use once the lockdown is over. Millet hopes to cut down on prices, but keeping the pools up and running, and chalking out a future agenda is priority now. “We’ve been paying the electricity bills because our pools can’t stop filtration,” she explains, adding that chlorine reportedly being a decent shield against bacteria and viruses (at least waterborne pathogens) is a silver lining. She says keeping parents from sitting by the poolside, urging people to come in their swimwear, dry up and leave without using the changing rooms, and halting daily access passes to pools, might do the trick.

Manisha Khungar of Gurgaon’s Trifitness  
| Photo Credit:
YEASHU YUVRAJ

Aggarwal hopes that the practice at Fitso of dividing a pool into different zones based on the proficiency levels is replicated by other pools. “Cities may have sufficient facilities, but it’s ridiculous to keep the group size to four swimmers, for example,” affirms Khunger on suggestions to limit swimmers in the pool at one time.

Open water swimming

However, with events like the Ironman announced for November in Goa, swimmers are keeping an eye out for opportunities to hit the water. Some — such as Khunger’s clients who are in lockdown in Goa — are making the most of open water bodies. “Open water swimming is good because of the lack of contact with other swimmers,” says coach Nisha Madgavkar, who won the 2019 Ironman (40-44 age group). “But you need to get acclimatised to the sea first, maybe for a day or two.” Millet, on the other hand, is not a big fan. “It is quite a dangerous environment,” she says, adding, “You need to teach swimmers the skills in a pool and simulate the condition through exercises — like making four people swim in the same lane so that they bang into each other, because in open water you can’t swim straight.”

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