Zenith Bank/Ikoyi to rescue shortage young swimming competitions in Nigeria
Lagos, May 3, 2019: As the 4th Zenith Bank/Ikoyi Club 1938 Swimming competition takes the centre stage on Saturday, April 4, 2019, what readily comes to mind is the dearth of swimming competition in Nigeria.
It is imperative to say that swimming competitions both at the senior and junior categories are almost non-existent in Nigeria.
Suffice it to say that the major swimming competition in Nigeria, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Swimming Competition, has yet to hold for three consecutive years.
The last edition of the only major swimming competition was the 7th CNS Swimming Competition which held from Thursday, Sept 22 to Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016.
The competition was held at the state-of-the-art Olympic size swimming pool at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere.
From then on, nothing has been heard of the competition save the Zenith Bank Ikoyi Club 1938 Swimming Competition which has been saving the face of Nigeria.
In spite of the richness of talents in the country, especially that the country boasts of abundant water bodies almost as the land, Nigeria has failed to tap into the resources by encouraging swimming among her unengaged youths.
More to say that some of the newly inagurated stadiums in Nigeria lack swimming pools as part of their features; an example of the Nest of Champions Stadium in Uyo and Mohammadu Bako Stadium, Katsina.
Aside this, one wonders why the existing swimming pool were degraded to ponds for breading fishes, snakes and other reptiles.
The swimming pool in the Liberty Stadium in Ibadan is in shambles so also the ones in Port Harcourt and Bauchi.
It is, however shameful to note that while the country is crying foul over the rapidly increasing non-employment of youths, no deliberate effort has been attempted towards sports as a stop gap.
Away from this hullabaloo, the Zenith Bank/Ikoyi Club 1938 Swimming competition organisers say they are ready as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility through sports to continue to support swimming in Nigeria.
The competition is ready to take place tomorrow at the swimming section of the Ikoyi 1938 club with over 250 swimmers from some selected clubs, primary and secondary schools in Lagos State.
The Chairman and Games Captain of the Swimming Section, Ikoyi Club 1938, Oloyede Obatoyinbo, said that the swimming competition was second to none in the country because of its landmark achievements.
He also said that the 2019 edition billed for Saturday would be a fantastic one from the organisation to the technical arrangement and the arrays of newly discovered young swimmers ready to take the centre stage.
“The organisers are fully prepared, the ponds are ready and also the technical committees are working round the clock to ensure that we have a fantastic outing come tomorrow.
“We are not leaving any stone unturned because we are well aware of the competition’s importance to the developmental growth of swimming in Nigeria.
“We can conveniently say that this is the only competition that has in the past produced great swimmers for Nigeria nationally and at the international level.
“The schools and the clubs are ready for showdowns during the swimming showpiece come Saturday with over 18 schools comprising of 12 primary and six secondary schools,’’ he said.
Oloyede said that the kids would have the opportunity to showcase their talents alongside their education which, he noted, was a great part to their success in the future.
“We do enjoy these great talents during the competition, how they always display unusual talents during the previous competitions. I believe that this year won’t be an exception.
“It is an opportunity for these kids to showcase their talents alongside their academics which I think is a fantastic way of securing their success for future endeavours.
“We will not relent in our efforts at discovering budding talents in swimming for the country, a part we have taken for the past three years now.
“We will henceforth look ahead for a brighter future for swimming in Nigeria,” he said.
The Technical Chairman, Nigeria Aquatic Federation (NAF), Rev. Samuel Jesmiel, said that the federation was working with the organisers to stage a world-class competition.
“The federation is actively involved in the competition because it can also serve as the avenue to discover talents to build our database that we have generated in the past.
“Ikoyi Club has been doing great for many years now and we are proud to be partaker of the competition because it is a developmental part of swimming in Nigeria.
“Most of our past notable swimmers in Nigeria were discovered through this competition and are champions coming back with good medals in international competitions.
“We have some competitions ahead which we need to discover talents for. The CANA Zone II coming up in Guinea and the Junior Competition in Senegal.
“The FINA World Swimming competition is also coming up in Budapest later in the year and we need swimmers that will represent us,” he said.
Swimmers discovered in Ikoyi Club had represented the country in the Swimfest International Swimming Competition, Arnsberg, Germany, where the team shattered the world records in nine events.