The Swimming Federation of India is seeking the aid of the Jharkhand State government to fund the 8th Asian Age Group Aquatic Championships, which will be held in August of 2014. The Chief Executive of the SFI, Virendra Nanavati, decided to approach the Jharkhand government after the success of the 2011 National Games of India. The National Aquatic Championships, held during the 2011 National Games, was hosted in Ranchi, Jharkhand and produced record numbers. Jharkhand is an Indian State located in Eastern India.
The Times of India reported that he Asian Age Aquatic Championships usually attracts swimmers from 49 different countries. The secretary of the Jharkhand Swimming Association, SK Tiwary, said, “This season we expect around 2000 swimmers, divers and water polo players from 49 countries during the championships”
The meet also attracts a large number of corporate sponsors as well. The meet, however, is too big for the SFI or the JSA to host without government support. It is expected that the bill for the meet will be close to 25.4 million Rupees.
India is in the process of building a swimming program from virtually nothing. In 2012, they had one swimmer at the Olympic Games. This year they had five swimmers at the FINA World Championships and six at the FINA Junior World Championships. None of the swimmers, however, advanced out of prelims.
What better way is there to build a swimming program without proper funding than to work with the government? They have the money and the meet will attract tons of revenue for the city of Ranchi and the state of Jharkhand. USA Swimming is already established and has its own support net and funding. I think it is great to see the SFI working with the government because it will benefit everyone involved. The meet will attract tourists and create revenue for the city and state, and the SFI will increase their funding, and benefit from the popularity of the meet and the hype it creates. Similar to the spike in membership USA Swimming sees following the Olympic Games, the SFI will hopefully see a similar spike in membership and support from around the country, following this meet.
Building a program does not happen over night, but I believe this is a step in the right direction for India and the swimming community as a whole.