Indians and swimming

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#1 May 27th, 2012, 01:07
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#1
This morning, my Hindi teacher talked to us about swimming. She said that herself and most of Indians couldn't swim.
I've decided to write an article about this for ma blog. I've already written the article but I thought it would be better to ask their opinion to Indian people before.
So, can you swim?
Why can't Indians swim?
Are there a lot of public pools in India?
Do you have swimming in your school curriculum?
Have you noticed a change about swimming in the Indian society?

Last question: I know there is a mysterious memorial in the south of India (maybe in Pondicherry but I'm not sure), erected for a man who had saved a child from drowning a long time ago. I can't find this monument on the web. Can you help me?

Thank you!
My French English blog about India: A Message to India
#2 May 27th, 2012, 06:32
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#2
Indians were sailing- and presumably swimming- 5000 years ago. The reason the ocean around here is called the Indian ocean is because they dominated trade across roughly half the world.

Go to village ponds, rivers, fishing communities today. India has 10000 km of coastline, some pretty massive rivers and many occupations connected to the water. Not to talk to bunches of children you will see.


No curriculum, no pools neccessary. I daresay there are more swimmers in India today than there are in Western Europe.
The percentage of urban Indian swimmers- as a percentage of the population- is probably quite low. They need pools and stuff, also the (largely missing) initiative to do anything not connected with academics or making money.
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#3 May 27th, 2012, 10:36
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#3
Very few urban Indian men can swim, and in addition almost no Indian women, urban, rural or beach-raised, can swim at all. This is because of the cultural clothing restrictions. When Indian women go to the beach they stand up to their calves in full clothing. It is almost impossible to learn how to swim while wearing baggy full clothing (it's difficult for an expert swimmer to swim safely while wearing all that stuff).

Nowadays super elite women might swim in private pools. The normal average elite can now wear tight leggings and a t-shirt at the beach, so learning to swim has become a possibility though still not very common.
#4 May 27th, 2012, 11:01
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capt_mahajan and nonindianresident have hit the nail and there is not much to add beyond their responses about the swimming culture in India.

You teacher might not be a swimmer but she is wrong in generalising that most of the Indians don't know how to swim.

Here are the answers to some of your questions (though I am not sure if responses collected through IM could be considered as a scientific sample)

1). Yes, I know swimming and I learnt it in a small pool in my friend's Mango orchard.

2). There are not lots of public pools in India but now a days you can find atleast one in small towns as well.

3). I did my schooling years ago so no question of swimming pool in school, let alone as a part of curriculum, at that time. However, my younger cousins and nephews (living in larger cities) had access to trainer and pool in their school (still not as a part of their curriculum).

4). Definitely, people with access to pool, are increasingly taking it up as a part of their fitness regime. Also, I see lots of parents taking their kids to learn swimming.
#5 May 27th, 2012, 12:21
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#5
Thank you for your answers.
So, if I understand well, people who wouldn't be able to swim would be people living in towns? People who have no access to pools, who don't live near water or people who can't take off their clothes in public of course.
And the number of people who can swim is increasing because it starts to be a usual hobbie.

Continue to answer, it is interesting. I don't want to write too many silly things on my blog!
#6 May 27th, 2012, 12:35
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#6
The pucca wells always seemed full of boys & youths in the summer time..
#7 May 27th, 2012, 16:00
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#7
anywhere in the tropics - any water body - be they rivers, lakes, ponds, canals - when temperatures soar - what do you think the kids do ??
in urban areas - one has to pay to swim - or, its not a priority, where sports or any extra curricular activity is involved.
you nor nonresidentindia have been to rural india, along any water-body during an indian summer, have you, marilay ?? ... and it is evident, neither has your hindi teacher !!!!

ask your hindi teacher if she knows how to ride a bicycle
my guess is, no.

sometimes with chaddis - sometimes without

link:


would you be able to swim across this river ??


or dive from the buland darwaza ??


link:

google or ask around - whatever.
there're more than enough swimming 'stories' and incredible photographs
india is also sending Her very first paralympian swimmer to LON this year - do google.

:brishti
#8 May 27th, 2012, 16:10
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#8
Quote:
Originally Posted by NonIndianResident View Post <snip>, and in addition almost no Indian women, urban, rural or beach-raised, can swim at all. This is because of the cultural clothing restrictions. When Indian women go to the beach they stand up to their calves in full clothing. It is almost impossible to learn how to swim while wearing baggy full clothing (it's difficult for an expert swimmer to swim safely while wearing all that stuff).

Nowadays super elite women might swim in private pools. The normal average elite can now wear tight leggings and a t-shirt at the beach, so learning to swim has become a possibility though still not very common.
dont know whether to laugh or cry at this absurd post.
... will just ignore the celebration of ignorance.


as an after thought - be a dear and google bula chowdhury and arati shah.
most rural girls learn to swim in their chaddis
most of india is rural

:brishti
#9 May 27th, 2012, 16:30
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#9
I've never seen Indian girls swimming Brishti , but I've seen plenty of boys, teenagers and young men swimming - and jumping and diving - in rivers.

Would it be younger girls only? Would they get more self-conscious as they get into their teens?

Maybe they sensibly do their swimming far away from crowds of people and foreigners



One of my most memorable experiences in India was swimming in the Narmada at Maheshwar and looking back at the fort, palace and temples. Wonderful! I was in full salwar kameez and didn't find it that difficult to swim in.
#10 May 27th, 2012, 16:58
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#10
my reference of girls swimming is just in bengal -
the girls usually either swim when their mom's are bathing - or in girl groups - away from any view, julia.
true - swimming may not be as popular with the lil girls as it is with them boys.

in them ponds - pukurs, of bengal - when the women bathe - its good fun to see the saree billow all around them when they're swimming and/or wading
there wont be any men around when the women are bathing.

next time in kolkata, and if in summer - take a visit to the anderson club, in south kolkata.
they have cordoned off a bit of the lake - and swimming lessons are given early morns.
good fun to see what the women get into the water with


true - its not thaaat difficult to swim in a salwar kameez - but i do wonder how one swims in a saree

:brishti
#11 May 27th, 2012, 17:03
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#11
My wife and her two sisters all swim, and they learnt in a village agriculture well.
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#12 May 27th, 2012, 17:13
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#12
Well there are two sides to this. Like Capt Mahajan said in the earlier post, the people living in rural India can swim. Atleast a majority of them. It is a basic survival skill for them and it is learnt out of need and necessity and usually in ponds, rivers and the likes. My dad and his siblings are excellent swimmers and they can find their way around in rivers and the ocean and they all learnt it in backyard ponds and rivers.

The people from urban India is a different ballgame altogether. The majority are woefully inadequate with swimming skills and never have the inclination to learn it either when they live in places with a pool. Swimming pools are not so common in Indian cities though they are not non existent either. Me and my siblings learnt swimming in public and private pools in Madras but it is not exactly cheap for someone in the middle class. So they neither spend money nor take initiative to learn there. Lot of them move to US or other places where access to a pool is so easy ( in Western US, pools are all too common everywhere in homes and apartment complexes) but some of them don't learn and not too keen. I have personally taught 3 or 4 people how to swim in the apartment swimming pool back when I was in Uni. I guess lot of them have a fear of drowning or something. I still know lot of Indians who cannot swim who live in the US.

Swimming ia a basic skill that is not emphasized too much by the majority of urban Indian parents just like any other sports. They probably tell their kids not to waste time and money on learning swimming and instead spend it swotting for the next years school subjects so they can all get jobs in IT companies. Atleast most of the friends I would invite to go to swimming when I was young were voted down by parents for the time and money aspect and the perception that swimming is not an important thing to learn. Some of them still don't know how to swim even today.

Quote:
Very few urban Indian men can swim, and in addition almost no Indian women, urban, rural or beach-raised, can swim at all. This is because of the cultural clothing restrictions.
That is a nonsensical sweeping generalization and totally untrue. My late grandma could swim like a fish and again, she learnt it from swimming in ponds and rivers during her childhood. She just swam with whatever clothes she had on and no special swimsuits or anything. Back then they did not have bathrooms in places they grew up so they went to the local river or pond to bathe everyday and swimming is a vital and acquired skill. Most old women from that generation could kick the asses out of today's urban Indian girls who cannot swim and probably waiting for Microsoft or Nintendo to release a swimming simulator they can do from the couch.
But some Indian urban women can swim as well and when I used to go for swimming back then, they had special sessions which were 'women only' so obviously some women in Madras were learning to swim even back in the days.
#13 May 27th, 2012, 18:08
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#13
I guess very few Indians actually know how to swim. Going by memory of boat tragedies, the average death toll is always above 50%, this when many are rescued by others.

Even among the deaths, the number of women always scores much higher, which may indicate even less womenfolks who know swimming.

Above all, these tragedies happen in mostly rural areas rich in water bodies.
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#14 May 27th, 2012, 18:16
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#14
Quote:
Originally Posted by carcorodoncarcharias View Post
My late grandma could swim like a fish and again, she learnt it from swimming in ponds and rivers during her childhood.
Don't you think that rural India has changed a lot (in every aspect) since our grandma's days. And the factors/conditions that encouraged the girls of that era to learn swimming are fast disappearing or have already disaapeared.

I guess Marilay would be more interested in the situation as it stands today.
#15 May 27th, 2012, 18:36
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#15
True. If I look around at my parents generation, a lot of the men and women knew how to swim and we come from an arid region and a largish town.

Among my generation hardly any of us knows how to swim and it is the same whether we have spent most of our time in cities/large towns or rural areas. Its just that those in rural areas have a few more places to learn and a little more time and a few less other important things/distractions.
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