The Lagos State Government is currently training its swimmers in open waters to ensure they were in shape for competitions pending the completion of renovation of swimming pools in the state, an official has said.
The association’s Chairman, Samuel Jesimiel, made the revelation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos while speaking on the state of swimming in the state.
NAN reports that Deji Tinubu, the Chairman, Lagos State Sports Commission, had said that the government would renovate the state’s swimming pools to enhance the growth of the sport.
Jesimiel claimed that he personally wrote to the Lagos State Sports Commission on the state of the state-owned swimming pools, a development that led to the renovation.
”I personally wrote a report to the Lagos State Sports Commission under the chairmanship of Deji Tinubu on how to revive swimming in Lagos State. Until the swimming pools are revived, we cannot have any championships, we cannot use swimming pools that are not compliant.
”The chairman whom I held in high regards promised to do something fast even if it means using the Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) method to make sure everything is in order.
”However, we are concentrating now on open waters training, that is training in the rivers which have been overgrown by water weeds,’’ he said.
Jesimiel, said training in the rivers could not bring the desired result but they were using it to keep fit until the renovation of the swimming pools was completed.
”Our swimmers are quietly training and doing what they could now, but we are still waiting on government to give us the go ahead to start preparing for the National Sports Festival in Calabar in November.
”The national sports fiesta is still about six to seven months away now and we can still do something because we have the swimmers already on ground.
”We are not relying on the elite athletes like other states that are expecting swimmers from abroad to represent them.
”We need the swimming pools to be ready because champions cannot be made in rivers, it is only in the swimming pool that we can have the technicalities monitored,’’ he said.
Jesimiel, said that the body was working round the clock to get sponsors to have competitions in the state, adding that the association did not lack swimmers.
”We have a marketing committee within the association in Lagos State; they have been working to ensure that we have sponsors to assist our activities and training programmes.
”There are no old hands in swimming because there are surprises, if you are a champion last year, this year a small boy will come and clear you off.
”At the last National Sports Festival in Lagos in 2012, tagged ‘Eko 2012’, we had swimmers that we discovered in February and March that year and we were able to garner 19 medals for Lagos State.
”We got the medals through athletes that were relatively unknown in national competitions. If we have a functional swimming pool in Lagos, I think we will come back,’’ he said.
Jesimiel, said the state could get to the level it was in the past if necessary infrastructure and equipment are put in place.
The training in water cannot bring out the desired results, it is only in the swimming pool that we can get technical control strokes and monitor effectively.’’
He added that it was disheartening to know that Nigeria would not be represented in swimming at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games in Brazil. (NAN)