As we are all set to celebrate Teachers’ Day this year, today, I take this opportunity to pay a standing ovation and a heartfelt tribute to all the Physical Education teachers who have mentored me and taught me the value of healthy body and sportsman spirit. It is not for nothing they say that in a ‘Healthy Body Lives A Healthy Mind’.
Who doesn’t know health is wealth? Every person is unique and so is their choice of keeping fit. You could be doing yoga, running, cycling or any other form of physical exercise but in my experience only those forms of keeping fit sustain which you enjoy and do as a fun thing rather than some routine stuff that you are doing because you have to do it. Having fun at exercising (whatever form) and keeping fit is the sustainable path.
As we moved to Hyderabad, we were pretty impressed by the fitness quotient everyone tries to maintain here (that’s the impression we get from the place where we put up). This is one character of this city that should be talked about besides it being a gastronomical delight and a walk in the history.
A swimming pool in our society made my resolve to learn swimming in this lifetime, look like near reality as we moved to Hyderabad from Delhi. And if you have a coach too, that makes it a perfect combination and a golden opportunity for non-swimmers like me. My daughters and the husband, all three of them knew swimming from before but I was the one who could be termed as hydrophobic. To be truthful, I had never thought I would be swimming in this lifetime but God has His own plans and you can’t decide the future. Within a month of moving in and somewhat settling down, I registered myself and my daughters in the swimming coach Bibhay Ranjan’s class (yes, we three have the same teacher).
For my daughters, it was more about learning the right technique, different strokes and stamina and taking it up as a sport while for me it was perhaps the last chance to learn how to swim. Like I had mentioned my hydrophobic nature, I was scared to put my face inside water for a few seconds let alone leave the sides of the pool. I remember the day before I knew that I would be asked to float across the breadth of the pool, I couldn’t sleep the whole night and literally had my heart in my mouth. No jokes.
Today, I can swim the length of the pool, my technique too is good, though far from perfect but I am getting there and I know two strokes (freestyle and back stroke and working on butterfly now, all this within four months of joining, not bad at all. What do you say?).
All the credit goes to coach Bibhay who did not give up on his weak student like me, there were times when I gave up on myself and thought I would never be able to do this.
Swimming classes have not only helped me learn this sport but I have also made some great friends at the pool. That’s indeed a bonus.Shifting to a new place when you hardly know anyone and then within a few days of joining the classes you have three musketeers to call friends, what else is a blessing?
Remember your school days? Perhaps your favourite subject was the one which was taught by your favourite teacher or you could say that your interest in the subject made the teacher your favourite. However you want to look at it, it leads to the same thing – the student excelling at the subject. I have returned to being a student (actually I believe that we are students for life and never stop learning) and now I share my favourite subject and favourite teacher with my daughters. I often tell this to the husband that if Bibhay can teach me how to swim he can teach anyone in the world.
Bibhay who himself learnt swimming in Gandak river in his village in Lalganj, Bihar from his father actually started off with swimming as a sport in his school days in Birla School Pilani, Rajasthan. He was selected in his school swimming team and under the guidance of his then coach Lal Sahab he played districts, states and CBSE Nationals. Bibhay, a senior system software by profession and alumnus of NIT (National Institute Of Technology, Warangal) was a Jhunjhunu district champion U -16, bronze medalist in Rajasthan open state (men) in 1500 mts free style and gold medalist in CBSE west zone aquatics competition U-19 to mention a few. When he moved to this society for work reasons he saw two pools which were mostly abandoned. What will happen when a passionate swimmer sees such a waste of the facility? He along with his brother who is also a national level swimmer, (may be it runs in the family!) started off with asking residents via social media if they were (read kids) interested in learning how to swim and there has been no looking back since then not only for him but the kids who have taken up swimming as a serious form of sport and not just recreation.
It is indeed a privilege and an honour to be coached by a national level swimmer.
Achievements of the students
Bibhay selected 19 students this year to take part in Razorfish Aquatics that was held in Gachibowli Stadium, Hyderabad. This was the first ever exposure of its kind for the kids. There were more than 500 participants in different age groups. His student, Vivaan bagged 1 silver in 100 mts free style.
Competitions at National Level
There are various national level swimming competitions. One of the famous ones is CBSE nationals (not associated with CBSE Board). CBSE Nationals is played after qualifying zone (east, west, north, south and Gulf countries).
Aim of teaching
Bibhay says that he teaches the kids to be competition ready and his aim is to take the kids to the Olympics. I say why not? For only if you think, you can achieve. And if we can give the world a cricket champion that is no less than God then there are other talents waiting to be tapped too. It only needs that experienced eye to identify and if we have coaches like Bibhay I am sure the next swimming champion will be from India.
Three most important things to be a good swimmer
According to Bibhay the three most important things to keep in mind to be a good swimmer are – Discipline, Dedication and Strong Mind.
My take away
There is no age for learning, life itself is a classroom. Believe, Strive, Achieve. That has worked for me. Also for travelers like me and my family, this is the easiest and fun way to keep fit even during our travels.