Muscat: Ivan Proskura, a former Olympic and Paralympic coach of Ukraine and USSR, who coached legends like Svitlana Bondarenko fondly known as “Queen of breaststroke”and Oleksii Fedina, the Paralympic star, is now a much-in-demand coach in Oman.
“I have seen swimmers with great potential in this country, who can become top swimmers in the world,” says Ivan Proskura, Nautilus’ Head Coach. He adds, “It’s a combined effort of the coaches, parents, federations but most importantly the hard work of swimmers that help to reach the Olympic standard.”
Swimmers like K.S Pooja, Nandhitha Rajesh, Shipra, Hussaine Taha, Usama Taha and Abdul Rahman are immensely benefited by Ivan as he is shaping their swimming career.
Pooja (17), no doubt, a swimmer with great confidence, started off swimming as a physical fitness programme under an Omani coach. Soon she realised her potential in this field which propelled her into swimming on a competitive level. “Most decorated Olympian Michael Phelps and breaststroke specialist Rebecca Soni are her idols”, she says.
An emotional moment for Pooja was at the CBSE Nationals held in the year 2016, where she won her first ever medal in swimming, a bronze in 50m butterfly. From then, there is no turning back for her.
At the Tamil Nadu State Meet 2018, she won two silver in 50m free and fly and a bronze in 100m free event, qualifying her to participate in the Junior Nationals held in India. She came 5th in 50m free. She represented Tamil Nadu in the relay team at the Nationals.
CBSE Nationals 2018 saw Pooja bagging a total of 7 medals. 2 gold in 50m breast and fly, 2 silvers in 50m and 1oom free, 3 bronze in 200 IM, 4x50m relay and medley.
The 12th grader who is now preparing for her final exams says, “Balancing between studies and swimming has helped me to manage time more effectively.” When asked about the parents’ role in her swimming career, she says with a smile; “I’ve been waiting for this question. They are my backbone and my number one support.”
Her mom proudly adds, “When the child has passion towards something, we give preference for that. Being a homemaker, I can give my time to see her passion grow.”
When asked about diet, she humorously says, “Swimmer moms should be great cooks, not necessarily taste-wise but health-wise”.
Pooja encourages young swimmers to take up swimming as a passion and to do it with great love which will help them achieve their best.
Hussaine Taha (10), a fierce competitor for a petite figure and a proud Omani won 4 gold medals at the Oman National Swimming Championship 2018.
Speedo Invitational UAE presented him with a trophy for standing the second best swimmer in GCC for his age group after winning gold in 50m breast and silver in 50m fly.
His record-breaking moments when asked, he said, “I was able to swim less than 40 sec in 50m breast” proving him to be the fastest in the under 10 category.
“I’ve been with Nautilus for over a year now. I have got many opportunities to compete, learning new techniques and being dedicated and very focused to swim faster. Thanks to my coaches Ivan Proskura and Irina Samakar,” adds Hussaine.
His proud father talks about Hussaine’s improvement day after day, not only in swimming but also his day-to-day lifestyle. “Getting trained professionally at Nautilus has helped my son to balance school and practice sessions in a systematic manner. He doesn’t have the time to get hold of the Ipad or spend endless hours playing video games, which is very good,” says Tariq Taha.
His most recent achievements were at the Middle East Open and Junior Championship 2019. He bagged gold in 50m and 2 silvers in 100m breast and 200IM. This rising star is sure to represent Oman in world championships in the near future.
Hussaine’s older brother Usama Taha (12) had a great influence on his little brother as a swimmer himself. Usama proudly bagged 5 gold medals at the Oman National Swimming Championship last year.
This backstroke champion talks passionately about his idol, the backstroke world champion Ryan Lochte. Also about breaking his personal best in every competition he has been participating, and how the parents encourage both the boys to achieve their best in swimming.
The Omani brothers were trained for three years with the Oman National swimming team before Nautilus. Shipra (13) starts swimming as a hobby, is now winning medals in the competitive swim level. CBSE clusters 2018 saw Shipra bagging 4 gold medals. She outshone her opponents in the 200IM and 100m back at CBSE Nationals held at Ranchi, India. She continued her blistering performance by finishing 4th in both 100m and 200m backstroke at the Karnataka Short Course Swimming Championship.
She aims to beat her personal best every time she competes, said Shipra. She adds, “I have my parents and my coaches to encourage me a lot. Three hours and half of coaching every day is not a joke when working parents have to take time to drop, wait and pick me up. I am blessed to have such support from them.”
Nautilus is very proud to have such dedicated swimmer/parent duo on board alongside great Olympic coaches to see promising results in every meet Nautilus participates.
One year in the competitive swim level and Nandhitha Rajesh (12) is steadily climbing the ladder winning medals and beating her personal best.
She started the year 2019 by winning 2 silver medals in 50m breast and 50m back and a bronze medal in 100m backstroke in the Tamil Nadu State Meet. Adding to that, she bagged 2 gold medals at the British School Muscat Swim meet 2019 for 50m and 100m breast.
When asked about her proud moments, she says, “When I won my first medal in CBSE clusters held in Muscat in 2017”. Her parents are her greatest source of encouragement and support. “My mom drives me for training every day; it’s a 45 minute drive one-way, I utilise that time to do some studying. Swimming has helped me to better my time management skills”, she adds with a smile. “Just listen to coach and one can be a better swimmer”, says Nandhitha to all the young swimmers out there.
Abdul Rahman, (13), started swimming at the age of 9 with the Sultan’s school swimming team. He joined Nautilus in April 2016. This young Omani boy thrives to be one of the best swimmers in this region. His achievements seem to be endless starting from the year 2016 to 2018.
His performance in Hamilton Aquatic Meets for consecutive years is exceptional. He won a silver in 50m fly and a bronze in 50m breast in the year 2017 at Hamilton Aquatic Development Series. At the Nautilus Annual swim meet 2017, he won 2 silver medals in 50m breast and 50 fly. A bronze medal in 100 breaststroke. At the First Swimming Championship Muscat Age group 2018, he bagged 2 silver medals in 50 breaststroke and fly and a bronze in 200IM.
He proudly received an award “The Swimmer Of the Year 2018” at the Sultan’s School, where he is pursuing his academics.