The closed swimming pools in Delhi has forced some medal winners from the Khelo India Youth and University Games to travel to the facility in Haryana at pre-dawn hours just to get a single session in the water.
The Talkatora Indoor Swimming Pool in Delhi , for example, has been closed since March and its doors remain shut despite guidelines from the home ministry as far back as September asking for pools to open for training for elite swimmers.
Swimmers like Prachi Tokas, who excelled in the freestyle events at the 2019 National School Games, now travels every day to reach private pools bordering Delhi, where elite swimmers are being allowed to train from 4am to 6am.
“That’s the only slot for us,” the teenaged Tokas, who has also won medals at the senior national championships, said. “I’ve no other option but to drive down with my parents to a private pool near Rohtak in Haryana. If the pools in Delhi were open, I would have trained twice a day.”
While some of the top swimmers have the resources to travel as well as pay for the use of the pool (around Rs5000 for a session), many others simply can’t afford to.
“If private pools can function in Haryana why can’t the government open in Delhi?” said Raj Kumar, secretary of the Delhi state swimming unit.
A Sports Authority of India’s (SAI, which runs the Talkatora facility) official said the Delhi Disaster Management Authority is yet to give a green light for pools to open.