Indian swimmer Anshul Kothari: “Media should broadcast national and international swimming events on TV or Apps to increase popularity of the sport”

Anshul Kothari is one of India’s most accomplished swimmer having represented India at Commonwealth Games 2010, Asian Games 2010, Asian Games 2014 and Asian Games 2018. In 2010, he became the first swimmer from Gujarat to have represented India at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. He has taken part in 32 National Championships.


As a sportsperson, how difficult you think their COVID-19 era is for athletes?

The Covid-19 era for athletes is an extremely difficult period because most of the athletes are not able to train in proper training facilities and environment. Also, a lot of them were preparing for 2020 Olympics and the whole training plan has now been disrupted due to postponement. Some athletes who were nursing injuries will benefit from it whereas some athletes in peak form will be at slight disadvantage as future form in sports is not guaranteed. Another problem is that it will take few months before all the athletes reach their peak again.

What has been your lockdown fitness routine? Tell us about your diet.

I have been doing bodyweight exercises, yoga , meditation and some cardio exercises to keep my body in shape. On the diet front, I have cut down on total calories I take as compared to normal training day.


Do you think mental fitness is an aspect where players and organisations still have to put a lot of focus on? How important it is? What do you do for your mental health?

Mental health is often a less discussed topic outside the world of sport. As an athlete, I have worked very hard with my coaches on the mental aspect of preparation before a competition. Because competition is 99% mental and 1% physical.  At the major competitions like Olympics, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, it is the mental strength that makes the difference between winning or losing a medal.

However, on the outside no one talks about the mental health aspect of athletes as everyone expects athletes to succeed all the time. People fail to realize that athletes have normal life and losses takes toll on us as well.  Being in a in professional sport is taxing on the mind and the body as it requires tremendous amount of discipline, grit and resilience to show up every morning and do the hard work. I do some visualization, yoga and meditation to work on my mental strength.



Do you think Swimming’s popularity has increased in India? What can be done further to improve it?

Swimming is still not a popular sport in India. Even in the global scenario, swimming isn’t very popular except for the Olympic years.  So we cannot have more sponsors coming into the sport of swimming if the sport isn’t broadcasted worldwide every month like how Football is done in Europe and Basketball in USA or cricket in Asia.  The International Swimming League(ISL) is a welcome step towards the direction of making the sport more popular to the audience as well as putting more money in the hands of swimmers. 

However, in the Indian context, as of now no one can make much money via swimming. This is a big motivation dampener for the children who are planning up to take up swimming as a career. Because the ultimate question boils down to “What after sport?” How do we answer this question to young swimmers and their parents? 

Also while the swimmers are pursuing the sport, how many people can afford to keep pumping in their savings and for how many years? Swimming is an expensive sport where one racing suit costs around Rs.20000 and lasts for 4-5 races.  

Swimming is still an elitist sport in India and not many people can afford to do it full time and this is also the reason young swimmers quit sport after school/college to focus on education/jobs.  The only answer is to bring in more money to the sport via corporate funding and giving prize money at national events. Money is big motivation for human performance.

Furthermore, the media should broadcast national and international events on TV or Apps.  At the same time, India needs to start hosting more international level swimming competitions which will bring more audience to the swimming pools as well as encourage more kids to pursue swimming as a sport. Also more articles about swimmers need to be published in the media. 


Why do you think more brands and sponsor should come forward to support both the sport and athletes? 

Brands should come and sponsor athletes as both parties can benefit from the partnership.  Brands will get a fit person endorsing their product and ensure a connect with potential customers.  Athletes will gain more recognition as well as monetary benefits.


Do you think more sportsperson should leverage their fan base and popularity to act as influencers?

Sportspersons should definitely leverage their social media fan following and connect more with their fans and answer the questions related to sport so that the awareness about a sport increases. As far as influencing is concerned, if the product/service they are influencing is suitable to their own brand image then they should endorse it.

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