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ISSO Swimming

The ISSO national event in New Delhi was a significant event for the Ascend swim team due to the sheer scale of the competition as well as the fledgling team’s lack of experience with out-of-state events, However the course of events may not have turned out as their high expectations were hoping for. The team left for New Delhi on the morning of the 13th of September. We took a short bus trip to the school in Noida, which was the venue of the competition. The school boasted an Olympic-sized swimming pool, spanning 50 meters with 5 lanes for the swimmers to race in. Spectators were restricted from viewing the event by the poolside, and the races were streamed live from the school's cafeteria where all the teams were assembled. The events began on the second day, and even though the excitement and anticipation was significant, the organization of the competition left a lot to be desired.

Many amongst the swim team complained about having to wait hours on end for their event to take place, long after the time it was scheduled for. Arvid Bhatia, a member of the Under-17 boys division stated, “It was not very well managed, but the spirit of the team encouraged me to go on”. Tarana Ramachandra, a member of the Under-17 girls division made a similar comment, saying, “Even though everyone was drained and tired, the fact that our team was there for each other, and still managed to laugh through a 13-hour day made the competition a lot better”.

This rather optimistic attitude, however, did not seem to be the case for some of the students from other schools. Manoj Desai from Deccan international school criticized the event extensively, stating, “The pool’s atmosphere felt like a late 70’s Las Vegas crime scene.” He added, “This feels like a teenager's first attempt in organizing a substitute classroom for the lower grades.” His only positive comment did not praise the event much either, as he stated, “The only highlight I could personally find is that the organizers know how to toast a sandwich, which does not speak highly about the quality of the event itself”. These observations pretty effectively conveyed the poor management of the event. The disorganization remained a recurring theme, as the opinions of both Ascend swim coaches: Ms. Jyotsna and Mr. Rohit, were similar in fashion. They both spoke about the ridiculous waiting time and misrepresentation of the event, and believed that the races were terribly organized.

The events themselves went rather well for most of the Ascend team, as could have been expected from a smaller group. Despite the grueling competition from all across the country, members of the team still persevered and were able to achieve merit in their respective races. On the second day of the competition, Tia Manekshana, a member of the Under-19 girls category, had a great performance, winning bronze for the 50m freestyle race which made her the only member on the team to win a medal.

After a long sequence of events which involved a lack of communication involving wait time, the Ascend team finally headed for the airport, before catching a late flight and landing in Mumbai at around midnight on the 15th of September. The event was a huge turning point for us, as it motivated us to train harder for the next competition, which, despite being a long time away, is already in view for us.

-Ishaan Rajan

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