The Nigerian Navy says it has begun a swimming competition for officers and ratings nationwide to improve personnel proficiency to stamp out “sea blindness” at operations.
The Flag Officer Commanding Naval Training Command, Rear Adm. Babalola Egbedina, made this known yesterday during a three-day “Second Annual Intra-Command Swimming Competition (AICSC)” in Port Harcourt.
He said the competition, which featured 250 navy sailors’ and officials drawn from different formations and units, also aimed to discover talents for participation in international swimming competitions.
“The second edition of the AICSC is aimed to key into Mr President’s charge to the nation’s Armed Forces to at least, produce one medal at international swimming competitions.
“When we (navy) discus at international foras, we find that one of the reasons why African navies are backward is because of sea blindness.
“There should be renewed interest by way of ensuring survivability of the Nigerian navy through the most important factor; which is the man.
“So, the Chief of Naval Staff had identified a strategy which is to revive consciousness, to ensure that we produce medal winning hopefuls for 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.
He said that organisers of the competition were willing to partner the Nigerian Swimming Federation and corporate organisations to include civilian associations and clubs’ participation.
Earlier, the state Commissioner for Sports, 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 competed in Freestyle, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Butterfly, Invitational relay and Medley swimming events at the Olympic size swimming pool at the Adokiye Amiesimaka stadium.
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