When Likith SP splashed his way to the gold medals at the All India Inter University Aquatic (Men) Championship in 2018, it did not come as a surprise. The 3rd year Bachelor of Arts student at Jain (Deemed-to-be University) has shown remarkable will and determination to excel in his chosen discipline and bagged four gold medals with two meet record timings at the All India Inter University Swimming Meet for Men held at Jain Global Campus, Kanakapura from October 28 to 31, 2018.
At the meet, Likith first broke his own record with 1:04.62 in the 100M-breast stroke event, breaking his previous record of 1:05.14 during the heats. He then went on to win a 50M freestyle battle touching the pad in 24.33 seconds. He capped off a great showing at the meet with gold in the 4x100M medley relay again with a record-breaking time of 3:57.25. This was the JAIN lad’s third relay gold and all coming in new meet record timings.
We caught up with the ace swimmer who shared his thoughts on the path so far traversed. Excerpts from the chat:
When did you start taking swimming seriously and who played an important role in helping you take to the pool?
It was in 2011 when Thulasi and Pradeep Kumar, both swimming coaches, spoke to me and made me realise that I had the potential to do well in swimming. They have been my guides and I now look at swimming with a wider perspective.
What were the challenges you faced when you first started out?
I started swimming just for fun and I also had a decent financial backing and support. So the only challenge for me was to take up competition which I have enjoyed doing.
How do you prepare for an event like the All India Inter University Aquatic Championship? How do you deal with anxiety and stress before a big competition?
Big or small event, I push myself during my training with the only goal of being a better athlete than I was yesterday. Simply said, I just wish myself the best of luck since it is too late to turn back, and just get out to swim.
How often do you practice?
Quite often! I always ensure I take ten swimming training sessions in a week with each lasting for two hours. Additionally, I go through three gym sessions in a week.
How has swimming benefited you in terms of focus and discipline?
It is a sport where race is against time. Punctuality is learnt. At any given time, you will be in the company of other athletes, so you are expected to be cordial with them. Mental fitness is very important; our training programmes are not easy. Some swimmers breakdown when they just look at the schedule. So when I get through the training sessions, I am convinced I can be focused to put in a good performance.
Besides utilising the facilities that are provided at JAIN, what other preparations go into making you a swimmer?
Yes, I also train outside both swimming and gym. I’m grateful for the support given to sportspersons by JAIN in academics.
What would you say is one of the most valuable aspects of this sport?
Travelling! Who doesn’t love to travel!? I get to see and experience a lot beyond what I had ever imagined I could.
What is the state of swimming in India?
I would say with certainty that 90% of the swimmers in the country do not have access to decent training facilities. Good starting blocks and heating facilities are most important for optimum performance.
What about the infrastructure at JAIN compared to other universities?
Infrastructure is good for competition and training! I really like it!
Do you think sports should be made an integral part of the curriculum?
Yeah of course! Sports make one healthy and active.
A typical day for you is …
Day starts at 5.00 am, training at 5:30 – 8:30 am, then make way to college, head to training at 5.00 pm, by 8 pm I’ll be back home. My day doesn’t really sound exciting but I do manage to have fun in between.
What are your future plans?
I believe that if I know where exactly I’m going there is no fun in it. So I’m doing what I have to do this day believing that I’ll be something big tomorrow. I do have plans for myself and it’s something I want to remain unknown to many.