Inadequate funding has clogged Nigeria’s ability to produce world beaters in swimming, the President, Nigeria Aquatics Federation (NAF), Babatunde Fatai-Williams said on Saturday in Lagos. Fatai-Williams made the assertion when he spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria on the forthcoming 7th Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Swimming Competition. The tournament which will feature the junior category for the first time will hold from Sept. 22 to Sept. 25 at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos. Fatai-Williams said that Nigerian swimmers could get it right if given the right atmosphere to operate, including discovering the swimmers at a tender age.
“Swimming involves lots of exercises for the whole calendar year. Swimming practices should be at least five days in a week and for a period of about four years.
“During the Atlanta 1996 Great Britain won only a silver and a bronze, but things changed in 2012, when Britain came second on the swimming medals table.
“We then asked where Britain got it right; the answer is funding. Britain got 75 per cent of its funding from sports lottery which we can also copy from.
“We have made recommendations to the sports minister on how to achieve this. We have made it clear that government cannot do it alone, we need others to come in through this model,’’ he said.
As part of effort to develop swimming in Africa in the face of inadequate funding, Fatai-Williams said that the international body for swimming, FINA, had commenced developmental programmes.
“FINA has set up an Olympic size pool in Dakar, Senegal as part of its developmental programmes to support Africa. It also provides coaches to train the swimmers.
“The world body is investing much in training programmes and we also hope to key into it by sending our athletes to Dakar for training.
“There are plans to involve other aquatic sports in our programmes such as water polo and as soon as the Olympic size swimming pool at the National Stadium, Lagos is ready, we will organise championships there.
“Nigeria will also host the next edition of the Zone 2 regional swimming competition,’’ he said.