Coaches discover brilliance of ace swimmer in 7-year-old girl


The Srinivasans and the All Star Academy people in Dubai. John Varughese / Gulf Today

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

Lifeless for thirty minutes after her birth, a seven-year-old girl who dreams of becoming a marine scientist-algae expert has been noticed to have the potentials of an ace swimmer by her coaches in Dubai.

Of Indian-Filipino parentage, Sara Alizon Apruebo Srinivasan told Gulf Today regarding regional and international meets: “Oh yes! I want be an Olympic swimmer like my favourite (American Katie) Ledecky who said she only competes with herself. I will hold the Philippine flag for two reasons. I miss the Philippines. I have seven dogs there which I truly miss! Thankfully, my (uncles and aunties) are taking care of them!”

She continued: “I love the breast stroke because it is like a frog and I love Science so much. I want to be inside a submarine. I want to study everything about the algae. I also want to be a swimming coach because I want to teach kids how to be brave in the sea.”

According to Ramdan Hafez and Burak Bilgutay, executive director and head coach respectively of the All Star Academy where Srinivasan trains, noticeable is the growing number of parents mustering in their children for the lessons; conscious of the safety and peace in the knowledge of swimming gives them. They noted that several schools across the country are equipped with Olympic-sized pools which make swimming an essential part of Physical Education, a practical move.

“It is safety first. They enroll their children (for the love) of the beaches and the swimming pools. They are at peace whenever they are out in the beaches and pools,” said Hafez.

Bilgutay who represented his country, Turkey in competitions, agreed, adding that the UAE provides the “convenient environment” for swimming to thrive as a sport as well: “Training comes in (later). We have so far over 1,000 swimmers in all our schools. You see, any kind of mistake; any kind of accident that can happen in the pool or in the sea; no one should take even one person at risk because any type of drowning may end up losing your loved ones, forever. So families must take high level precautions to teach not only their children but all members. One mistake and we cannot turn back the time.”

It was for health reasons for Srinivasan whose current coaches are Abdelrahman Salaheldin and Osama Ahmed Shalaby who had given her the A+ for dedication, drive and smartness.

Her parents, Sathish Kumar of the Emirates Airlines-Line Maintenance Engineering Department and Rachel, a Philippine-licensed social worker and among the anti-human trafficking technical staff of Manila’s Department of Justice, when they accidentally met at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport over a decade back, had been noticing “her breathing was the same sound of a person with phlegm and mucus.” Consequent chest x-rays in Dubai and Metro Manila showed “Clear” results, however.

Srinivasan was age two when her parents decided for the swimming classes which pediatricians in Metro Manila also supported. She has been training for “roughly” four years now and recently required to be at the pool four times a week. There was a time when she had to stop for almost two years “to give way” to the cancer treatment of Rachel who had waited for years for motherhood principally due to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and she almost lost her only child from four near miscarriages.

Srinivasan was among the 700 competing swimmers, ages seven to 26 at the “All Stars 2nd Championship” held at the Hamdan Sports Complex one Sunday back. Her feat in the Seven-Year-Old Category: fifth place out of 17 competitors in the 50-meter (m) backstroke with seed time of 1:15.00/current time of 1:00.71/ time improvement of 14.29 seconds; fourth place out of seven participants in the 50m breast stroke, seed time of 1:20.00/current time of 1:12.33/time improvement of 7.67 seconds; third place out of 18 competitors in the 50m freestyle, seed time of 1:05.00/current time of 53.50/time improvement of -11.50; and third out of three participants in the 50m butterfly, seed time of 1:03.00/current time of 1:17.42/time dropped of +14.42.


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