HomeKreedOn CandidsSandeep Sejwal on a mission to transform Odisha into a swimming state

Sandeep Sejwal on a mission to transform Odisha into a swimming state

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Introduction

Sandeep Sejwal does not need to be introduced. He is called one of the finest swimmers India has ever produced and a 13-time national champion. He is the fourth in the history of Indian swimming to have won a medal in the Asian Games. Sandeep won a bronze medal in the 2014 Asian Games after Sachin Nag (1951), Khajan Singh (1986), and Virdawal Khade (2010). Along with this rare feat, the 33-year-old swimmer has bagged gold medals seven times, silver medals twice, and a bronze in the South Asian Games Swimming championship.

The New Journey of Sandeep Sejwal

After saying goodbye to professional swimming, Sandeep Sejwal intended to become a coach and he has done it. JSW has been in Odisha for last three years and Sandip joined in April this year. The academy is based in Kalinga Stadium and the whole program where nine more High-Performance Swimming centers have been laid in Odisha is the result of an association between JSW and Odisha state sports ministry. Sandeep talking over the phone from Bhubaneswar said,

“I was in competitive swimming for more than 25 years. Naturally, after retiring from it, what else more could I do? I could have been in the game’s administrative office. But I wanted to be in the pool and except for coaching, I could not have been in the pool even after retiring from professional swimming. So, I have joined. Building up swimmers for the future has been the most loved job for me.”

Sandeep Sejwal – Transformation and the Tribal Students

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Under chief coach Sandeep Sejwal and Technical Director, Douglas Eagar the swimming academy has 50 students. The age group starts from 14 years. Only three out of 50 have joined from other states and the remaining 47 students are from Odisha. The out-stationed swimmers include Chahat Arora, the two-gold and silver medal winner in the recently concluded National Games from Punjab, Likhit SP, and Jyotsna Pansare. According to Sandeep, there are a few tribal students among those 47 local swimmers and the tribal students seem to be highly promising. Sandeep opined,

“The tribal students are hard-working and they have immense raw talent. So, if they can be groomed you can surely expect a medal-winner from them in the future.”

The Arjuna awardee swimmer had also a lot of praise for the infrastructure provided by the Odisha sports ministry. He informed,

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“We have been provided a semi-indoor 50-meter swimming pool which has a roof along with a 25-meter pool also. Additionally, a World-Class indoor swimming pool that can be heated is coming up and it is expected to be ready within the next two months. JSW in association with Odisha Sports ministry has also set up nine more High-Performance Swimming centers across the state. Sandeep Sejwal asserted,

“Within a few years you will see noticeable changes in the swimming in Odisha. From our present center, eight swimmers had already earned eligibility to take part in National Championships and National Games also. Within the next couple of years, the number of participants will increase and medals will also come.”

The difference narrowed by Sajan and Nataraj

Sandeep Sejwal had a high appreciation for two present-generation Indian swimmers Sajan Prakash and S. Nataraj. Even having admitted that there was a basic difference in standard between the top Indian swimmers and swimmers of the world’s top countries, Sandeep Sejwal claimed,

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“The scenario has changed. We have two swimmers Sajan Prakash and S. Nataraj whose timing in their respective events have been within the World’s top 16 swimmers. The difference between World’s top swimmers and our swimmers is being narrowed gradually by these two swimmers. Both have already earned qualification for the Paris Olympics. So, the mindset of Indian swimmers is changing and I am optimistic that within the next couple of years, more Indian swimmers will be seen competing with the World’s top swimmers also.” 


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