Following the initial feedback gathered from the ‘FINA Targeting Rio 2016 – Scholarships Programme’ participants post-FINA World Championships in Kazan, FINA established contact again with the young athletes training at the Thanyapura Centre in Phuket (THA) and asked them a few questions about their experience and the benefit of their intensive immersion into the road to Rio 2016 preparation programme.
While the participants all recognise having dramatically improved since the beginning of the programme in May 2015, the young talents often share a dream- one day reaching the a-standard qualifying times and swim on the lanes of their favourite champions.
Sajan Prakash - India
1.You have now been training in a state-of-the-art facility in Thailand since May 2015 and most of you have participated in the FINA World Championships in Kazan, how do you evaluate your progress over the last five months given the various opportunities you have been given?
Kazan was a great experience by watching so many world champions swimming. Over the 4 months it was a very good experience by learning so many things and correcting my mistakes with proper techniques and being focused on an event. Working together as a team was also very beneficial.
2. What are the main differences between your current training routine in Thanyapura and your programme back home?
I'm more able to fully concentrate on my swimming because back home it's very difficult to assist myself financially and I can rest well here. I'm able learn something new every day.
3. Apart from "targeting Rio 2016", what are your ultimate goals as an athlete and what are your expectations from this one-year programme?
My main aim is to achieve the 'A' cut in 1500m freestyle and 200m butterfly and make good use of this one-year programme which helps to learn something new day. The programme will help us to show the same back home. Apart from this my aim is to lift Indian swimming and win gold at the Asian games. As per my expectations I can say, it will be very useful if FINA helps us financially to go outside and swim as many FINA meets as possible!
4. Who has been your swimming biggest inspiration of the 2015 season and why?
Michael Phelps and Chad Le Clos. It's good to see both challenge each other and swim.
Shivani - India
As I am taking advantage of the best facilities, I did improve in the 200m freestyle and now I am 1 second away from the a-qualifying standard. Miguel got my stroke analysed from the World Championships and I got to know the corrections in my stroke, as I am trying to work on it. We also train with different swimming teams whenever they come to Thanyapura, which is always a good experience for me.
Here we have variation in the work outs and it is very challenging. Back home there was not much variation in the work out which is kind of boring. The work out intensity is as well higher here.
My expectations from this one-year programme is to make the Olympic b-qualifying standard in the 200m freestyle, 100m free and 50m.
Katie Ledecky is my biggest inspiration of 2015. I watched her racing in Kazan as she won the 1500, 800, 400 and even the 200m freestyle.
Cheran da Silva - Sri Lanka
I have improved dramatically over the past couple of months. Been exposed to Olympic grade of training under two great coaches’ direction. I have improved my strength and anaerobic capacity in large amounts.
• Training hard, right after drylands/gym
• Hard training sessions 3 times a day
• Training more than double the weekly mileage
My goal is to achieve Olympic b-standard and come as close as I can to the a-standard.
Frankly I have no inspiration but I admire Joseph Schooling.
Kimiko Raheem – Sri Lanka
I definitely have made a significant improvement in my swimming so far. I’ve improved 4 seconds in my 200m backstroke and if I improve another 4 seconds I can make the Olympic b-standard.
Since I don’t have any major educational commitments, I can focus a lot of my time and energy on training, whereas back in Sri Lanka, I had to manage both, which was very difficult due to the disorganised organisations.
We also have much better facilities here, that help us to reach our full potential. We also do much more long course training here, while we only had a short course pool back at home. We did have long course practice a few times per week, but the pool was very unreliable – weak lane ropes, too acidic/dirty which made it hard to train.
My base target is to be the first Sri Lankan swimmer to make the Olympic qualifying time. However I would also like to go further than that and aim to make the a-qualifying time if possible. I want to open my country’s eyes towards this amazing sport so that our swimmers can be better recognised and supported so that they too, can do something for our country in the international stage.
My biggest swimming inspiration is Katie Ledecky. I always knew she was exceptional, but after her outstanding performances in the World Championships in Kazan, she truly became my inspiration. She had 2 races with just 16 minutes between, the 1500m and 20m. While some swimmers would bail from such a challenge, she didn’t. She kept a positive mind set and ended up winning, both events. I have seen videos and how hard-working and resilient she is and I think she is amazing.
Sofia Shah - Nepal
My progress over the last five months has been significant. I've consistently swam faster times at each event since Kazan and broken a number of national records. I feel that I achieve greater fitness week after week. I have changed the food I eat to a healthier diet plan and I've never felt better in the water.
The main difference is the actual opportunity to train all throughout the year. My training routine was very inconsistent in Nepal due to the lack of facilities, which lead to a limited training period of 6 months a year. Another difference is the ability to focus solely on swimming. I used to have to balance swimming with academics and this programme allows me to focus on becoming the swimmer I need to be to represent my country well.
My ultimate goal as an athlete is to achieve the greatest fitness level possible and to achieve the fastest times possible. My expectations from this one- year programme are not only that of achieving great athletic ability, but to keep connections with the team mates and friends I have made. This programme allows us to be exposed to swimming in the regions around our homes and now we have connections to help promote swimming in our South Asian region. My expectation is that this programme makes an impact on future generations.
I would name a famous and world record holding swimmer - but my biggest swimming inspiration is all the swimmers back home in Nepal. They go through such a struggle just to train but they are still so passionate and work as hard as they possibly can with what they are given. I am proud to represent a country that has bounced back from an earthquake and still swimming strong even with so many obstacles in their path.
Eloi Imanguarha -Rwanda (part of the FINA Scholarship Programme)
My evaluation is that my state was 20% at Kazan and currently after training for 3 months in Thailand it went up to 47%. It is very good, as the training is very good.
It was not so good training in my home country, but it is now much better.
This one-year programme is so nice because it is different from my country. I have more power and I will do well in Rio 2016.
Vitiny Hem - Cambodia
I just came to train here 2 months after Kazan. I feel that I have improved a lot since I’m here.
The main differences are the times and the amount. In my country I have only 2 hours of training per day, but in Thanyapura I have much more training and harder than in my country. I think I will copy the programme in my country which I’m practicing right now
My expectation now is to break a national record and I want to be the top swimmer in my country. I want to make good times in Rio for the Cambodian people. My goals right now are to train hard and to get good results for my family and my country. I don’t want my coach to see me as a hopeless case.
My biggest example is Joseph Schooling, because he is a swimmer that is amazing for me. I know him since he was in his first competition in SEA games 2011. He got there the gold medal on the 50 meter butterfly and he did a very good job. After the SEA Games he got as well the bronze medal at the Asian Games in Incheon and the last I saw him he did awesome in the SEA Games in Singapore 2015, where he won a lot of gold medals.
Tonleu Hemthon - Cambodia
I came to train at Thanyapura after Kazan. I feel like I’m getting better with the amount of training. It is really, but really good for me. I feel my training has improved after I’ve been here.
I like the times and the programme for training. It is really good and good technique for me. I like and I will practice everything that I’ve been practicing here at home.
My goal now is to break my new record in Rio. I want to make the national record in my country. I will try to beat my own record in Thanyapura, which is going to Rio 2016.
Ryan Lochte is my biggest idol. He is a little older now, but he still is my super hero. I like how he swims and want to be like him!
Sajina Aisath - Maldives
I have done a PB in at least one event that I swam during the past months
The distance is more in Thanyapura than at home. Gym and dryland work outs are hard. Longer hours of training sessions.
I want to take back all the information which I get during this period back home and help other kids to improve more. My ultimate goal is to get a medal for my country.
Katy Ledecky is my biggest inspiration. I watched almost all of her events at Kazan. Most inspirational thing about her is that how she fought against her time during the finals and how she achieved to go even faster.
Sajan Aminath - Maldives
I have improved my times, techniques and I feel really good in the water now.
We used to do about 4000-5000m a day back at home, but we do about 7000-8000 per day now.
My current time in the 100m freestyle is 1.06.60 and target to go under the 1.03 at the Olympics.
Kathinka Hosszu, she is an amazing swimmer. She was doing event after event at Kazan and she performed great at all.
Imelda Ximenes Belo – Timor Leste
I only spend 3.5 months here and I just evaluated myself. I made a little progress with the facility and it is really nice to learn.
I feel so different in here because we never use anything with the time before but in here everything is with time and disciplined and I as plan to when back home I’ll try to do good and example the training routine in Thanyapura
My expectations from this one year, I just wanted to fix my technique and not only prepare to train for Rio, but also I was here to plan to learn how to swim, so when I go back to my country, I would like to bring back the teaching technique and transmit it to people in my country. This is my ultimate dream.
Katie Ledecky because she trains so hard and she’s very confident.
Najma Kathun - Bangladesh
I came to Thailand on June 19 and I didn’t participate in the WCH in Kazan. But I’m lucky because I’m here. Here are various opportunities which are helping me to do hard training and my training is improving day by day.
Actually so many differences training routines here and my country. But the main difference is that here we do 10 sessions in a week and every swimming session, abs, gym but in my country I didn’t like this.
My goal is only which is making the b-qualifying time.
In 2015 season, Katie Ledecky (USA) is my biggest inspiration. She broke numbers of World Records and her swimming style is so good.
MD Sagor Rahman - Bangladesh
I arrived at Thailand on June 1, 2015h. Straight away I started to train hard. Before participating in the WCH I had only trained in Thanyapura for 1.5 month, which was not enough to break the national record. That is why I missed the 100 freestyle record by 0.01 second. But gradually I’m improving my training for many opportunities here.
Here everything is good for the training routine, like abs, gym, swimming. We do 10 sessions in a week which improved my swimming performance. But in our country there aren’t good facilities for training.
No swimmer couldn’t make it to the FINA b/a-qualifying standards in Bangladesh before. So my goal is write the history in Bangladesh, by making this qualifying standard.
Florent Manadou (FRA) is my biggest inspiration of the 2015 season. Because he participated in both 10 freestyle and butterfly and achieved gold medals in both events and his swimming styles inspires me.