NAN – The Nigerian Navy says it has begun a swimming competition for officers and ratings nationwide to improve personnel proficiency to eradicate “sea blindness’’ during operations.
The Flag Officer Commanding Naval Training Command, Rear Adm. Babalola Egbedina, made this known on Thursday, at the “Second Annual Intra Command Swimming Competition (AICSC)” in Port Harcourt.
Egbedina said that the three-day event, featuring 250 naval sailors and other officials drawn from different formations and units, was also aimed at discovering talents to participate in international swimming competitions.
“The second edition of the naval training command swimming competition is aimed at ensuring that the Nigerian Navy keys into Mr President’s charge to the Armed Forces of Nigeria to at least, produce one medal at international (swimming) competitions.
“When we (navy) discuss at international forays, we found out that one of the reasons why African navies are backward is because of sea blindness.
“There should be a renewed interest by way of ensuring survivability of our (Nigerian) navy through the most important factor; the man, considering that 70 per cent of the human body is composed of water.
“So, the Chief of the Naval Staff had identified a strategy which is to revive consciousness to ensure that we produce medal winning hopefuls in international competitions.
“We must begin to change our attitude towards sports, because swimming is the king of sports, considering that not less than 50 medals are up for grabs in swimming sports.”
Egbedina said the competition was also designed to boost sailors’ confidence, fearlessness, courage, and survival instincts at sea to better confront emerging security threats at the nation’s territorial waters.
According to him, the organisers of the competition are willing to partner with the Nigerian Swimming Federation as well as corporate organisations to include the participation of civilian associations and clubs.
Earlier, the Rivers Commissioner for Sports, Mr Fred Igwe, commended the navy for the high standard of the competition.
Igwe said the competition, which also served as training, would expose naval athletes to swimming skills and tactics that would further enhance professionalism in the navy.
Both male and female naval personnel are competing in Freestyle, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Butterfly, Invitational relay and Medley swimming events.
The competition is holding at the Olympic size swimming pool, Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the Nigerian Navy had in February 2014, in Australia, emerged winner of the global Tug-of-War competition which involved 40 navies around the world.