‘Failure is very rare in Nikli’
Swimmer Karar Samedul Islam, a product of the Nikli Swimming Club, won one silver and three bronze medals in the 2004 SAF Games in Islamabad. Considered one of the best swimmers produced in Bangladesh, Samedul spoke about a journey that began at a club in Kishoreganj and shared the secrets of Nikli's success while speaking to The Daily Star's Ashfaq Ul Mushfiq.
The Daily Star (DS): What initially piqued your interest about the Nikli Swiming Club?
Karar Samedul Islam (KSI): In 1993, I was inspired by my cousin Karar Mizanur (Rahman), who won a gold medal in the SAF Games that year. He was moulded at the Nikli Swimming Club. Seeing his success, I decided to join the club as well. From 1993, I was trained by our local coach Md Abul Hashem. I then joined BKSP in 1997. Two years later, I was called by Bangladesh Navy.
DS: What was the condition of the club when you started and what is its current state?
KSI: To this day, most of the swimmers who come to the national team and join different services teams are rooted in the Nikli Swimming Club. However, back then, Hashem sir was the only trainer and he trained us with the knowledge he had. There was not much planning and fewer sources of information back then. Today, he has more experience and has a lot of sources of information from where he gathers new techniques, plans and ideas before implementing them. Things at Nikli are now being operated in a more organised way.
DS: What is the perception of a parent when they get their children admitted to the club?
KSI: They send their children with the hope that they can get a job in the services teams. Of course, it's about health and discipline too, but they have faith in the club and believe that their children can make a living and provide for their family through swimming.
DS: And what happens to those who don't make it?
KSI: Failure is very rare in Nikli. There might be one or two, who are medically unfit or have some other issues. Other than such exceptional cases, all the swimmers end up getting jobs. Around 70 per cent of swimmers in the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Ansar and even in BKSP came from the Nikli Swimming Club.
DS: So what is the secret behind Nikli's success?
KSI: Many former national swimmers look after swimmers in the club now. They share their experiences and expertise with apprentice swimmers. The best part is that you don't have to ask these students to come to the club. They show up willingly and punctually every day. They are driven by a passion for swimming.
DS: Those that grow up in haor areas are naturally good swimmers. What do they learn new when they join the club?
KSI: Natural swimming and professional swimming is very different. There are differences in technique, style, routine and many more. As these children are naturally good swimmers, it comes as a bonus. But one has to learn the different styles of swimming alongside maintaining a routine in life to become a better performer and proceed. Here in the club, the children are taught swimming in a professional manner.
DS: Is a lack of facilities hampering the progress of swimmers?
KSI: To be honest, the facilities today are so much better than they've ever been. Trust me, seeing all the opportunities and facilities now, I feel like starting over again. There are events and tournaments throughout the year, which is helping us find new, talented swimmers from all around the country. Back in our day, these opportunities were rare.