“India Looks out for Own Michel Phelps”
Cherian is an international swimmer and an Arjuna Awardee from Kerala. In this
conversation with Theresa Soni, Jerom John, Sharath Joseph, Cedrina Elizabeth Libiera, and Merissa of Rajagiri Christujayanthi
Public School, Kochi, he talks about the strenuous pathways he strode to achieve
this covetable position.
Could you tell us something about yourself and your family?
I’m working at present as an Assistant Sports Officer with the Sothern Railways in Chennai. I’m married to, an Olympian herself. I have three children, two sons and one daughter, who are also enthusiastic swimmers.
What prompted you to take up swimming from your early childhood and how did you improve your standard? Also who was your first coach?
When I was a child, I used to practice swimming in a lake in front of my house. In fact, I used to swim for around 20 km a day. We did not have the facilities that you enjoy today. My first coach was Mr. V. Valsalakumar.
You became a state and national champion as a student. Was it easy juggling swimming with studies?
I became a national champion at the age of
14. I used to find it easy juggling swimming and studies. Studies weren’t so
strenuous in those days. Besides, regular exercise helped me to study better. I
used to exercise for two hours and study for one.
You have won innumerable championships and have represented India for 13 years in a row. How did you manage to maintain your fitness and standard?
It was sheer willpower.
Which is your main stroke?
My main stroke is the backstroke. I’m a short distance
swimmer (100m, 200m)
Which international swimmer do you idolize the most?
Michel Phelps, of course
Do you think India still lags behind in swimming in spite of the large water bodies we have? What hinders Indian swimmers from matching the level of excellence that countries in Australia have reached?
Right now, India does lag behind in swimming. While we have
been covering the distance to reach excellence, other countries have moved
What prevents us from being as good as them is the lack of proper training and coaching in India. India should definitely provide more facilities for upcoming swimmers.
What measures are required to improve the scenario?
We must provide more facilities for swimmers. We could also bring in foreign coaches from countries like the USA, Japan and Australia on contact, to train our swimmers.
Could you name a few Indian swimmers who could go on to become successful next generation greats from India?
We should watch out for Sajan Prakash who represented India at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Shri Hari Nataraj is another talented swimmer.
What is your advice to the students who want to take up swimming as a career?
Swimmers must develop strength and learn correct
techniques. A good diet high in protein, preferably a non-veg diet is a must. Most
importantly, swimmers must stay away from any substance abuse and smoking.