Poland Penazimor, one of Nigeria’s national swimming coaches, has attributed the country’s abysmal performance at major championships to lack of competitions and long term programme for the swimmers.
The coach, who stated this in an interview in Benin on Monday, said Nigerian swimmers were capable of being world beaters.
Penazimor, who is also Edo Swimming Head Coach, noted that in spite of possessing the capacity, Nigerian swimmers were exposed to only one competition in a year, as preparation for major championships.
“It is sad that with the caliber of swimmers we have in the country, they only have one local competition (The Chief of Naval Staff Competition) to assess their state of readiness for major championships.
“This is even as there is no long term programme for the swimmers and yet, we want them to perform magic in championships.
“Our comparative advantage in the pool lies in the 50m and 100m, but how well do we prepare these swimmers for major championship?
“My take is that the board should source for sponsorship for competitions and create zonal competitions that would cost less in order to expose these athletes,” he said.
Penazimor, who was national swimming team captain between 1988 and 1995, also stressed the need to harness swimmers at the grassroots level through catch-them-young programmes.
The Cairo 1991 All Africa Games medalist, said Nigeria must take advantage of its riverine areas to discover and groom athletes for the national team.
“Yes, I was a product of the grassroots. Although we do not have swimming pools at that level, we make use of water stretches.
“The use of a water stretch can be useful in discovering and grooming more swimmers at the grassroots. What we need to do after discovering them is to camp them in a city for sometime to expose them to the techniques of the sport in the pool,” he said.
He, however, said government at the state and local government levels could assist in this regard by creating the enabling environment.
Penazimor also decried lack of maintenance of pools, saying it was another factor militating against the growth of the sport in the country.
According to him, Nigeria has standard swimming pools in states such as Oyo, Edo, Rivers, Lagos, Kaduna and Bauchi, but added that the pools were in bad shape due to lack of maintenance.
“Many of them are not functioning as a result; you even see that the water in some are greener than Mango leaves,” he said.
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