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Nihar Ameen is the most eminent swimming coach in India. The Dronacharya awardee has already produced several swimmers of international standard. Indian swimming saw Virdhawal Khade finish in the 50-meter butterfly event with a bronze medal in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games. Then within four years, another Indian swimmer Sandeep Sejwal ensured a bronze medal in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games and both these swimmers are students of Nihar Ameen.
The current swimmer Srihari Nataraj who acquired ‘A’ qualyfying for Tokyo Olympics is aslo the student of Nihar Ameen.
Ameen’s coaching career began with his sister Shahnaz Shacoor. Despite being the youngest swimmer at the 1982 Asian Games, Shacoor was helpless for not getting any guidance and Ameen started training his sister. Still, those days in the early 80s were not easy for Ameen. Tough for both of them as Ameen shuttled between two corporation swimming pools in Jayanagar and Sadashivanagar while trying to train his sister. More importantly, Shacoor had to practice in public batches, and she was the only female swimmer in the pool at that time.
There was no infrastructure for coaching privately in Bangalore at that time. Shacoor performance started improving gradually and Ameen’s training programs drew the attention of the then-leading national swimmers like Wilson Cherian and Bula Chowdhury. They also sought assistance from Ameen.
But after Shacoor gave up swimming in 1988, Ameen also stopped giving coaching and joined his father’s furniture business. But the scenario changed when in 1989 one of the Bangalore-based businessmen took over Basavanagudi Aquatic Center under lease from the local authority and handed it over to Ameen, requesting him to continue his unfulfilled dream of guiding the kids who wanted to achieve their goals through swimming.
In a bid to master the subject of coaching, Ameen went to the USA, worked as an apprentice with USA Olympic coach Jack Nelson and completed his certification course. Ameen has been the head coach and program director of Dolfin Aquatics, one of the oldest swimming clubs in Karanataka. Ameen took over the running of the club in 2010.
On Nataraj and Prakash
Ameen is hopeful that Nataraj and Prakash, both have the potential to bring medals from the major international competitions. Ameen said,
“These two swimmers have already created history, achieving the A-qualifying positions for the Tokyo Olympics. Nataraj was very close to winning medals in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games last year. He was slightly off his form on a particular day in the finals and finished at 54.31s. Otherwise, he would have maintained close to his personal best of 53.77s that he set in 2021 then he would have returned with gold. It means we are close to the international standard. I am looking forward to their performance in the forthcoming international competitions.”
The need for support & a medal
Nihar Ameen believes one international medal in swimming will change the scenario. His ultimate dream is to produce more swimmers who can bring medals from major international competitions. Ameen asserted,
“That has been the key reason I returned to India after a five-year stint with the USA swimming team as an assistant coach of Jack Nelson. Even if I get such type of offer from any other foreign country I will not go. My mission is to produce more swimmers of international standard like Nataraj and Prakash.”
“Niraj Chopra’s gold medal in Tokyo Olympics has changed the scenario in Indian athletics. Similarly, a medal in any major international competition must change the scenario in Indian swimming also. We are close to the international medal-winning standard. Along with Nataraj and Prakash, there are 12 to 20 more swimmers here who are the potential to win international medals. But for that, we need patience and continuous support, especially financial support.”