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Let’s inspire a generation

Published: 
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Roland Schoeman from South Africa will be here for the training camps.

The incredible demands placed on professional athletes inevitably cases the occupation to become a selfish one. For athletes, days are typically consumed with all types of self improvement. 

However in my opinion it’s better than being driven by the single mindedness of simply trying to make more and more money. But, even it rings hollow against the likes of nurses, doctors and social workers who make a real lasting difference by healing, mitigating pain and improving lives. 

Sadly though, for most people the sum total of their life’s work and careers ends up being just their financial assets, or a collection of records that inevitably get broken, and medals that tarnish as the passing of time saps their youth and vitality. How terrible it must feel to look back at the end and realise that it was all for nothing, and to know that this world would have been no better of a place if they never even existed.

Even though sport is an inherently selfish occupation, it does provide the opportunity to make a difference by touching lives and inspiring others to even greater heights. Thanks to the help of Atlantic, Oasis Water and The Sport Company of T&T, our small national swimming community will once again benefit from being visited, inspired and coached by Olympic medalists and some of the greatest legends of the sport in the George Bovell Dive In Free Swim Clinics 2015. Free of charge! 

I have tapped into my peer group from the international swimming circuit and persuaded three of them to take time out of their busy schedules and travel far to meet us here in Trinidad; our relatively-insignificant microcosm. I am honoured and excited to announce that this year will be the greatest initiative of its kind in our country’s history as we will be joined by the likes of:

Roland Schoeman—eight-time world record holder, Olympic gold, silver and bronze medalist, and three-time world champion from South Africa.

Arkady Vyatchanin—twice Olympic bronze medalist, twice World Championship silver medalist and European champion from Russia. 

Moss Burmester—World champion, World Championship Silver Medalist, Commonwealth champion and fourth place finisher in the Olympics from New Zealand. 

I feel compelled to challenge and facilitate this next generation with the opportunities that were never available to us growing up. Looking back, as a young swimmer in the early ‘90s coming up through the age group ranks, we did the best that we could with the limited knowledge and third world resources that we had available to us. 

However, It wasn’t the poor facilities or the lack of elite coaching that were our biggest limiting factors, but rather our handicapped ability to dream. We simply could not conceptualise a reality in our wildest imaginations in where we could be great champions. World Records, Olympic and World Championship Medals were for those big countries that we had heard of in the movies that reached us. 

We were satisfied with our lowly aspirations of beating St Lucians and Barbadians who also suffered from similar stunted ambition. No one we had ever known of, or as a matter of fact even heard of had been great. Swimming was a sport to be passionate about until common entrance, or maybe if you were tough and smart, you saw it through until the CXC examination.

Even with empowering social programmes like Gate for education, this travesty continues, and it’s not for a lack of means. Today most young people in T&T will shortchange the talent and potential they have been blessed with, simply because they still lack the ability to dream and aspire to greatness. 

Their ambition is handicapped because no one from their local community has achieved inspirational success in any field, they are incapable of imagining it. So instead they aspire to be just what they know can be done locally, just as how we used to aspire to beat St Lucia in swimming. 

In some communities greatness is seen as notoriety and providing for the community through crime and thus the vicious cycle of gangland violence is perpetuated.

Swimming is supposed to be a fun, healthy opportunity to learn valuable life lessons. The truth is that not everyone can become an Olympic medalist, but through sport anyone can learn what it takes to become great at whatever esteemed field they choose to imagine and work towards. 

Under the personal tutelage of these visiting Olympic and World champions our local swimming community will undoubtedly learn some training methods, skills and drills that will immediately make them improve, guaranteed. More importantly though, my hope is that through personal interaction and discourse with these living legends we can impart in our youth first hand what it takes to be great, get them to believe it’s possible and then inspire a generation to greatness in life.

Follow George on Twitter: @georgebovell

George bovell dive in clinics

January 15 
Venue: Blue Dolphins Swim Club,  St James 
Time: 5 pm - 7 pm

January 16
Venue: Centre of Excellence, Macoya 
Time: 4pm - 7 pm

January 17
Venue: St Michael’s Pool, San Fernando  
Time: 9 am—noon 

The public is free to visit sessions, pool spaces are limited and are handled by the National Federation and their affiliated swim clubs.