Absence of a foreign coach and lack of facilities at the newly-built swimming complex have left Swimming Federation of India (SFI) worried about India's medal prospects in the sport at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
With less than 45 days left for the October 3-14 Games, SFI secretary Virendra Nanavati said swimmers are still waiting to get hang of things at the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Complex, and the delay is hampering their preparation for the mega-sporting event.
"We have been trying hard for past few years to get a foreign coach but nothing has been done and the matter is still lying with the government officials. Many other sports are enjoying the services of foreign coaches but not the swimming federation. In such a scenario what would you expect from swimmers?" questioned Nanavati.
"Much has to be done before the Games kick off. We had a Test event there at the complex but found many lacunas and were forced to cancel it. We have submitted a list of the improvements needed to the organisers and hoping for the good. We would lose the home advantage unless the pool gets ready for the camp to be held there in September," Nanavati said, who is in the city for the Senior National Swimming championship.
Nanavati said the swimming federation had provided a list of 12 coaches to the SAI and even finalised the name of Australian Alan Thompson as the chief coach, but deal could not be materialised due to SAI's "lethargic" attitude.
"The SFI was ready to spend hundred of dollars from its own pocket. Thompson had agreed to coach the Indian team in April this year but lethargic attitude of SAI proved to be a hurdle. The officials kept the papers under wraps for long and are still sitting over them as ducks. Good coaches can't be hired without handsome amount.
"SAI had agreed to give Thompson US$ 5,000 per month and the SFI was ready to pay him another US$ 2000 to make the total figure US$ 7,000 per month," Nanavati said.
When asked about the preparation of the Indian swimmers for the Commonwealth Games, Nanavati said the players are working hard to raise their qualifying standard.
"We have not been able to win a medal at CWG and hoping to put up a good show this time. We have pushed the qualification bar a bit high. The qualification mark for the team selection was eighth place in the last CWG in Melbourne and sixth place in the last edition of the Asian Games.
"But if required the selection panel consisting of Ramanand Mukhopadhyaya, Arun Saha and S Pradeep Kumar might provide some relaxation," Nanavati added.
"The last date for submitting the final team list for CWG was August 25th but was extended to August 29th on SFI's request. The submission of team list for the Asian Games in China in November is September 3rd. There would be no next chances for the Indian swimmers to touch the qualifying mark later," he added.