Recently, IIT Delhi Aquatics team came home to a hero’s reception. And deservedly so. After all, they have made us proud in this year’s Inter-IIT Aquatics Meet held in IIT Kanpur.
Every team works diligently in a quest to improve until it reaches the pinnacle of sporting excellence and this year’s result shows that IIT Delhi’s aquatics team is marching (or should I say swimming) on the right path. Last year, IIT Delhi Boys’ swimming team secured 5th position and this year they secured the 3rd spot.
Also, the Girls’ team secured the 2nd position. This is a commendable feat as, in the last 10 years or so, IIT Delhi has never been able to come even close to a podium finish. This year however, Gaurav Singh, a member of the aquatics team, feels that IIT Delhi made its presence felt at the biggest event of them all. Talking to Dhritiraj Das, the captain of this year’s team, we came to know that the team has got a new coach this year round and he is undoubtedly, the biggest driving force behind the team’s success. The coach knew how to target the skill set of an individual for further improvement and kept separate workouts for players who specialized in different skills such as endurance training or long/short distance training.
The secondary architects of this triumph were obviously, the team, led by Dhritiraj Das and Aditya Kotia. The duo had been winning medals since their 1st year but their efforts always seemed to fall short of a top 3 place. This year also, Dhritiraj won 1 Gold and 2 silver medals and Aditya Kotia bagged 1 Gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze medal. However, what catapulted IIT Delhi into the top 3 was the boys swimming team which finished 3rd largely, because of 8 points from the two relay events. The relay teams were as follows:
4*100m Freestyle Relay (Bronze): Dhritiraj Das, Aditya Kotiya, Yash Malviya and Gaurav Singh.
4*100m I.M. Relay (Bronze): Dhritiraj Das, Yash Malviya, Abhay Karol, G.S.M. Rishikesh Reddy.
Boys Relay Teams
Also, a special mention needs to be given to the new star players of IIT, Yash Malviya and Bhakti Agrawal, both of them securing 2 Gold & 1 Silver medal each. Bhakti also secured the INSTITUTE CHAMPIONSHIP trophy. This trophy is awarded to the best swimmer from all IITs combined. Vrittika Bagadia and G.S.M Rishikesh Reddy, secured 2 Bronze medals and 4th position in 200m Backstroke respectively. The presence of such outstanding new swimmers proved to be instrumental in IIT Delhi’s success and this was clearly emphasised by all the team members we talked to. Vrittika attributed her success to regular practices, proper guidance provided by the coach and the constant support and encouragement offered by the team. “Their faith in me helped me achieve what I aspired for.”, she feels.
These medals kept the IIT Delhi points tally ticking. Here is the medal-points relationship:
Individual Events: Gold = 5 points, Silver = 3 points, Bronze = 2 points and 4th Position = 1 point.
Relay Events: Gold = 10 points, Silver = 6 points, Bronze = 4 points and 4th position = 2 points.
The two teams, who topped the charts this year, were IIT Madras (in Swimming) and IIT Kharagpur (in Water Polo) and the reason was quite simple. They have a culture that passes on from one batch to another and the experienced players from these IITs took the competition by storm through their relentless hard work. When asked about the difference in facilities between IIT Delhi and others, he replied “The only difference would be a permanent coach. The rest of the IITs like IIT Kanpur, Madras, Bombay, Kharagpur, all have a permanent coach. I am not forcing IIT to give us a permanent coach, but at least provide us one who will come daily starting from the very first day of our summer training till the last day of the inter IIT event.” Some team members also feel that lack of availability for exclusive slots at the swimming pool for team practice, delay in getting equipment and availability of pool for a limited number of months due to weather conditions are also major complications that the team faces.
But what motivates these players? And how do they manage such commitment? The answer is simple – love for the sport. Hardwork, dedication and passion like that come naturally to a person who loves what he or she is doing. If you love playing, you will go to practice every day. “Despite all odds, it's the hunger for glory and the responsibility of representing IIT Delhi among other IITs that keeps us motivated”, says Gaurav. Vrittika agrees by saying that the zeal for medals is something that can bind a team together to great effect. Moreover, following the coach religiously is equally pivotal as this year’s success reflects. Freshers aiming for an inter-IIT stop, Listen Up!
Aquatics, at IIT Delhi, is at a certain disadvantage as compared to other sports, be it in terms of coaching and infrastructure facilities or the participation from students. Aquatics is a very demanding sport and requires a lot of time and effort which eventually most of the students are not willing to put in, leading to limited competitive spirit within the team members and limited bench strength. With the recent triumph, the team can surely hope for better days ahead.
IIT Delhi has never won the Inter-IIT Swimming Championship, so there is no doubt that the team will be aiming for further glory. Most of the steps, that they plan to implement soon, focus on Water Polo. Building a good Water Polo team is their top priority after an unsatisfactory performance this time around. They are going to start dryland workout from January onwards. Also, there are plans to organize a Water Polo match every weekend. Be it in the form of an Inter Hostel match, an external competitive event or a friendly match with guest players from outside of IIT Delhi, such matches could prove to be an enriching experience for all present. When the swimming pool will restart in April, the Aquatics camp plans on teaching beginner student from scratch. Once they learn the basics, they can join the summer camp if they want to proceed to the next level.
This year’s jubilant triumph is a testament to the ‘khoon and paseena’ of the entire IIT Delhi Aquatics Camp, ranging from the swimmers to the pool cleaning staff. With great plans in the coming year to build an even stronger team and promote aquatics as a sport, there is no knowing how far this team of dedicated swimmers can go.