All you need to know about the ‘Undisputed Knight of Swimming’- Rehan Poncha

Sport
Rehan Poncha
All you need to know about the ‘Undisputed Knight of Swimming’- Rehan Poncha

This Arjuna Awardee has risen above in the game leaving all the odds by just keeping his eyes on the prize. Along with passion, consistency and valor are the secret ingredients of Rehan’s diet to increase the hunger and feed himself a massive number of medals he deserved. Hailing from the City of Dreams Mumbai, swimmer Poncha has proved that we can surpass any obstacle just as how he fought Asthma and then went on clinching the golds.

Rehan Poncha at a Glance

Born on 3rdAugust 1986
Father’s Name Jehangir Poncha
Mother’s Name Shirin Poncha
Proudly says ‘imd1’ for- Sports Swimming, Sport
Achievements
  • Olympian
  • Arjuna Award - 2010
  • Eklavya Award
  • Senior State Champion of Karnataka for 8 times from 1999 to 2008
  • Participated in Senior National Championships in Kerala in 8 events, winning all 8 gold medals, breaking 7 national records
  • Won more than 500 medals to date in individual events from State to National and International levels
Belongs to: Mumbai, Maharastra

We are really keen to know, how did your journey begin?

I started swimming at the age of 7 for therapeutic reasons, to help cure and prevent regular bouts of bronchitis. I have always been competitive and so it was only natural instinct that I would start racing at the sport I learnt.

What’s your success mantra?

Success takes time and it is incredibly important to stay patient and persevere through the struggles in your career. And above all, you must enjoy the process of learning and getting better from day to day.

What were the hardships / hurdles your encountered and the way you overcame in your journey?

I believe that there were more downs in my career than ups. And the way I dealt with them is by constantly looking at the bigger picture of where I wanted to be in my career over a period of ten years. Staying true to my Goals and also reminding myself of my earlier victories helped me get over bad days sooner as well.

Do you think Swimming and its learnings can be helpful in life even if one does not want to consider it as a career goal?

I believe that sports is an excellent tool to teach a young child so many life lessons that he or she would not otherwise learn. Through my swimming and now through golf, I have learnt the ability to stay dedicated to my goals, disciplined through my efforts and most importantly humble in victory.

Know me beyond Swimming

Favorite Personalities Rory McIlroy (Golfer)
I draw inspirations from Roger Federer
Food I Love Mughlai
Food I Hate Veggies
If not for Swimming, I would be doing I am a golfer now, and I’d have chosen that from the beginning
Like Vacations at Europe
Favorite Pass time Music and movies
Favorite Dialogue 'Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn'
Favorite Movies / Series A Beautiful Mind
Favorite Actor / Actress Russel Crowe, Anthony Hopkins

Who has been the main influencers in your journey & how?

I believe that all my coaches have had something positive to offer in shaping me into the athlete I am today. I never really had one role model but would make it a point to learn and emulate the good qualities that all my teammates had when I swam.

Which was ‘that’ moment when you considered yourself as “I Am The 1”?

I do not believe that moment has come yet, I hope it does someday

Did you get any formal training and how was that journey?

My swim and golf careers have only had formal training be it swim coaches, physical trainers and nutritionists as well. No one can get to their goals on their own. Everyone needs a well-educated support system and I was lucky to have that through my career as a swimmer and now as a competitive golfer.

Could you reflect on the importance of systematic training in Swimming?

As I now conduct swim clinics around the country through my academy, I teach children and athletes that it is extremely important to set goals first, both long- and short-term goals. And then, set up a process with your coach to get to them as quickly as possible. I feel systemic training is most important, without which an athlete cannot achieve all he has set out to do.

What are the pre-coaching essentials e.g. Right age, mindset or anything else?

I do not think it’s fair to pre-decide what is essential to be a great coach. However, some experience in the sport you are training athletes at, a formal education around biomechanics in that sport and finally a mindset and personality that young athletes can relate to is the most important aspect in training.

Technology has been changing the way people get trained in Swimming. What’s your take?

The world is getting smarter in terms of the information that top athletes have access today, be it great swim coaches or well-informed nutritionist and physical trainers. And therefore, swimmers are getting faster and records are being broken. It is the only way forward, and todays swimmers are luckier than the champions of yesterday because they get to take advantage of the system in a positive way.

What qualities must one look for in a ‘Guru’ for training in Swimming?

I think a swimmer needs to choose his/her coach on the basis of a couple of factors. One is, choose a swim team that has several champions, as they end up being your targets and pacemakers. A coach has to have a personality that the swimmer likes as we have to spend more time with our coaches than anyone else! And lastly, he/she has to be well educated and have experience at the sport. If he is Already coaching great swimmers, he’s obviously good. So, choose the team as well as the coach wisely.

What according to you, can be a scope for improvement in training for Swimming in India?

I had the good fortune of training with some great coaches through my career. However, I do not believe that every state in INDIA has as many talented, experienced and well-educated coaches as I did. So, if there needs to be one change, it has to be, upping the number of great coaches than just having a handful of them.

Your piece of advice to parents and new generation especially when some people are skeptical about career in extra curriculum.

Believe in your child’s talent and support him through his journey always. Pressure never helps as he or she is carrying enough of their own. And finally, if you still want to choose academics over sport, look through the earnings of Some of our Olympic medalists and cricketers today and your choice will surely get easier!

One thing which you feel you want to change from the past while you walk down the memory lane…

I do believe I made the most of my talent and what I was given as an athlete. Though it is not a regret, if there was one thing, I wish I didn’t have, was Asthma! I fought it from the age of 14 all the way to 27, came out on top for sure, but could have been an even better athlete than I was if I didn’t have the condition

How can one identify & encourage talent in the family?

I feel it is unfair to label a child talented at a young age. Some athletes are Superstars when they’re little and fade sway as they get older, and other Athletes take time to come into their own. Talent identification, if it really has to be done, should be conducted once the athlete hits puberty, is fully matured and has enough race and training experience.