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Mumbai to host first national throwball & swimming camp this week

For the first time ever, Mumbai will hold a national throwball and swimming camp. Organized by the Paraplegic Foundation to mark its 50th anniversary, the three-day camp will see the presence of 50 para sportspersons from across India.

The camp will be conducted by well-known para swimmer Shams Aalam, who has won many gold medals in national-level events.

Aalam, who attended the Global Sports Mentoring Program, a United States government initiative to empower athletes with disabilities, wants to raise awareness among people with disabilities through sports.

We are expecting 50 people from 10 different states. There are few states that support para athletes and this first-of-a-kind swimming and throwball training camp, which is 100% free of cost. That includes accommodation, local transport, etc. - Shams Aalam, Para swimmer

All participants coming from outside Mumbai will be given free boarding. The camp is from 24 to 27 October and will be held at the premises of The American School of Bombay.

The camp is being supported by the United States Consulate in Mumbai.

Aalam is the lead swimming coach and has a team of four others, which includes Pratik Gupta, who is a former swimmer and now teaches in Mumbai. An amputee, Gupta says the camp is a much-needed initiative given the many struggles disabled people face when they want to learn swimming, even in a city like Mumbai.

"The camp will see a mix of new swimmers as well the more experienced,", says Gupta. 'We will focus on teaching the basics to the first-timers, while honing the skills of the seasoned swimmers. This is a really important camp as there are not many pools in India where disabled people can learn how to swim. Only after you win many medals do you get a chance. But disabled people who wish to learn have a hard time. From their point of view, this camp is especially useful."

Among those looking for expert guidance is Wing Commander Shantanu, from Pune, who won two gold medals in the recent Maharashtra state championships.

Shantanu is a recent entrant into swimming. He learned while undergoing rehabilitation in Pune where he has been based after he was paralyzed in a bike accident while going to work last year.

At the camp, he hopes to get guidance on how to improve his stroke and speed.

"I started swimming in May this year and have won two gold medals in free style and back stroke. My dream is to get selected for the national team and take part in the 2020 Paralympics. I mostly use my hands while swimming as I don't have any power in my legs. I hope to get some help regarding that."

Through the camp, Aalam hopes to create awareness about the transformative power of sports.

"I believe this camp will surely help disabled people believe in themselves and look at sports as a means to lead a healthy lifestyle and improve their quality of life."

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