Srihari Nataraj (centre), a member of the Indian swimming team, alongwith a teammate pick the brains of Dr Genadijus Sokolovas, a renowned Sports Science expert during their workshop at the Dravid-Padukone Academy earlier this week. Image Credit: Supplied photo

Kolkata: The Dravid-Padukone Academy for Excellence in Bengaluru, named after cricket legend Rahul Dravid and badminton icon Prakash Padukone, has quietly begun the job of preparing sporting heroes for India with a long term goal.

A good example was a six-day workshop for a group of 45 top swimmers from across the country, including 23 national campers who are trying to meet the benchmark of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, under acclaimed Sports Science Expert Dr Genadijus Sokolovas of the US who has mentored more than 70 world champions. While Dr Genadijus Sokolovas sees a lot of potential in the Indian swimmers, he promises no miracles but feels a few of them should make the A Cut by 2024 Olympics.

Hosted by the Swimming Federation of India (SFI), the clinic saw swimmers being put through various tests such as biomechanics-based technique analysis, swim power test, start and turn analysis, lactate profiles for training zones and recovery protocols. SFI also conducted a two-day coach’s clinic for 42 coaches from across India.

“I’m really happy to be here. It’s anyone’s desire to be in India at least once in their lifetime. Hopefully, we can collaborate with more athletes, especially in swimming which is my specialisation. We conducted many tests with the Indian swimmers. I have developed many innovative tests that we are using on athletes. For example, the swim power test, which we used on close to 35 athletes – it’s a test that I use to analyse how intra cycle velocity changes for any stroke in swimming. The swimmers can find out where they are making mistakes – whether in the beginning, middle or at the end of the stroke.


“We also went into great detail with respect to the breathing techniques. We have been developing different drills customized for each individual. This will help the coach and the athletes to understand what exactly they need to work on. We are also doing lactate tests, to deterbuimine the ideal training intensity for each individual,” said Dr Sokolavas.

“After taking these tests, the Indian swimmers can confirm that there is a lot of room to be faster. I believe everybody can swim faster, including world recordholders. My prediction is that these guys can swim much faster than they are swimming right now.”

“Using the individualised recommendations after testing, I expect top swimmers to make considerable improvements. I also expect more swimmers, especially younger ones who are there at the camp, to reach an elite level faster. So, by the next Olympics, I am expecting multiple ‘A’ Cuts in India. I would expect the Indian swimmers to be way more competitive by the next Olympics. But we need to keep in mind that the ‘A’ Cut is a moving target.”

‘A Cut’ is a time classification for a swimmer or a swim. Known as the National Age Group Time Standard A, it is faster than the AAA time standard and is the fastest typically listed in times standards.

Srihari Nataraj, a Indian team member, said: “It was really nice having Dr Sokolavas here and the methods used for testing our technique are great. He pointed out how many changes I could make to go faster. As for yesterday’s workout, I tried making some of the changes and felt a lot more in control, a lot smoother. It showed how much there is to work on. This technology is something that we’ve never had access to and it will definitely make a big difference. It is going to make a huge difference going into the next Olympics. The technique matters a lot when you are under water and we have ignored that aspect for years.”

Centre of Excellence

The Padukone-Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence (CSE), inaugurated in December, 2017, is a world-class integrated sports complex built on 15 acres near Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport. CSE offers state-of-the-art facilities in badminton, cricket, cootball, tennis, swimming, squash and basketball. The centre aims to encourage competitive and recreational athletes, professional coaches, sports academies and aspiring young talent to excel in their sport of choice.