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Ibadan Swimming Classics begin
By Jide Alaka
March 18, 2010 02:29AM
Yellow Yeiyah of Nigeria set to jump into the pool in the men's 50m freestyle swimming heats at the World Championships in Rome, July 31, 2009. Photo: REUTERS

The twice postponed Ibadan Swimming Classics will now start on March 23, 2010 at the Liberty Stadium Complex, Ibadan.

Saheed Obadina, the national team coach, said this in a telephone interview. 'The event will now go ahead as planned, as all logistic problems have been tackled. We expect to have a full house for the championship as it will be the first on the swimming calendar for the year.' All through the years, it has been shown that practice and competition are what make swimmers better but in Nigeria, the competitions are few and far in between.

Obadina said: 'We know that we should be doing more but the problem as it has always been is the availability of money. If the federation gets enough money, we can organise competitions every week but that is what we are aspiring to.'

Training for the championship
Yellow Yeiyah, captain of Ogun State swimming team also speaks at their training ground at the Airport Hotel swimming pool in Lagos. 'At least we can finally kick off the year with this tournament. Since it was first announced that the Ibadan Classics was going to hold, we have been training, though not consistently. Now, we are sure and the intensity has increased. As a team, we did very well last year and we want to maintain those standards.'

Efforts to speak with Babatunde Fatai-Williams, the President of the Swimming association, were not successful. He had said at a press conference towards the end of 2009 that more swimming competitions will be held this year. The Ibadan Classics, however, will be the first national competition for 2010.

Ifiezibe Gagbe, the national female swimmer representing Bayelsa State is not sure if her team will be able to make it for the championships. 'I got the information late and it is not easy to train here so I do not think our swimmers are prepared but if we must come, we will give it our best shot.' The representatives from all the states will be camped at the Liberty Stadium hostel.