Josna.P.Joy, the record holder and Individual Champion of Senior Women Swimmers talks to MAYA KRISHNAN of the thick and thin splashes in the Indian Aquatics.
Kids from far and wide along with their dabbling moms toed the line with giggles along that blue-tiled swimming pool. They were there to swim across the two-month summer vacation counting down in delight, leaving the kids in safe as well as sportive space. Amidst all the razzmatazz stood Josna with a wide smile making one think of the news reporter’s spelling error Jolsna (meaning moonlight), something factual. With much affection and patience, she approaches each kid, sweeping his/her fear for water away, by simply sinking into the pool, holding the kid many a time until he/she tries a hand own.
Josna P. Joy, the water-babe from the banks of Meenachil river, in Aymananm village has been known to the Keralites, even before ‘God of Small Things’ turned the world to this lush village. It was in 2003, she made headlines by swimming across the Vembanad Lake, the longest lake in India, along with her two sisters. Then she was so small to realize the greatness of the mission she has undertaken. Now with the moonlit smile she would say, ‘Yes, for the last 5 years, I have been keeping the crown of the national champion in Indian Aquatics meets’.
After winning several titles in school, university and state levels now she is thirsty to conquer herself and this makes the driving force for this young girl to swim forward.
“It is to my father Polakkadu M.V.Joy,I render all my accolades as he is my first guru in this field. Himself a university aquatics champion, Papa made us three sisters to get in with the Meenachil River which flows through our village. Inside his arms I learned the alphabets and tactics of swimming at the age of 2”, says Josna.P.Joy .
So from the sub junior level onwards she started to bring laurels to her school and spotting the unique talent inside this tender girl, her father took her to SAI (Sports Authority of India), Trichur. The methodological coaching at SAI under the stalwart coach C.P.K.Mathew groomed a star in Kerala Aquatics and she started setting the pools ablaze wherever she went. It was the rise of a new aquatic star Josna.P.Joy, a contribution from Kerala to the nation.
But her accolades credited to the cache of Trichur and Calicut University in all the five categories (100m,200 m,400m,600m, 1500m Free Style) in which she has participated in the State junior and Senior Championships. Until wearing the jersey of Kerala, Josna says she couldn’t represent her own village ever. A precocious swimmer Josna loves Butterfly Style most but excels in any form of water-sport and makes one call each of her feat, a classic one.
In the long run of Aquatic competitions, Josna.P. Joy has been crowned with Individual championship 5 times consecutively. At a time when the drop-out rate of women swimmers especially in the senior category is alarmingly increasing, Josna still glues to her childhood passion with water, unaltered.
Concentrating more own studies and many other baseless reasons can underscore the naïve explanations for these vanishings. Even though much thrilled about the umpteen achievements she never inhibits to reveal her annoyance towards the step-motherly attitude of the government and sports authorities towards Aquatics.
“Swimmers seldom get job opportunities in dignified government services like Railways or Police force. When cricketers and other sports stars get massive recognition and support, we are being neglected deliberately. You can see the clear-cut gender discrimination in our case. Even when the male swimmers enjoy the celeb life of sports stars at various such Government departments inclusive of KSEB, we, the women swimmers get an appointment once in a blue moon, after a long awaiting, that too only in the Secretariat where we won’t get any bond and if we want to participate in a competition we have to represent Kerala State alone.”, rues Josna, though with the in-built smile.
‘I love to be a coach’
Swimming has now gone hi-tech with pompous pools like that of the Basavangudi Aquatic Club at Bangalore, Otters Club at Mumbai etc rendering scientific coaching, while Kerala, the land of rivers still relies on its reminiscent little water resources. The kids come from its background often fall back when they have to lock horns with the hi-techs at the State and National level competitions.
‘This also brings one’s spirits down’, Opines Josna who have traveled amply across the nation for many aquatic meets resurrecting from the village scenario against all the odds.
Legends say those who get ‘neelakoduveli’(a medicinal flower ) from Meenachil River in the month of Karkkidakam would ensure rich harvest. Josna must have pruned it with her tender hands when she was trying to beat the whirlpools of the tributary. However, never wasting time waiting for the Godot, she splashed into her track of dreams to become a good Swimming Coach.
“It is my ambition to become a Coach who is capable of inspiring as well as grooming the rising stars in this field. So I am contented with what I have now.”, she said looking on to the diving children inside the pool. “For the last 4 years I have been coaching children and of course their moms in swimming which now have acquired the pose of a Women Empowerment Project in the milieu of frequent Tsunami threats..and obviously as the best exercise one can have amidst a gadget-junky life.”
While talking on Josna suddenly leapt into the deep pool and vanished for a while. For some solid moments the water was calm and at another point of the pool she came up like a diving eel lifting a 10 year old girl who while swimming got cramped her thigh muscles. After consoling her with more than 10 drowns and ups wearing the same smile Josna jumped on to the floor and continued.
“This is common while swimming. But to train them to be professionals I need an NIS certificate from Bangalore.”
But she sighed she can get it even though she got a late appointment in the Secretariat only to swim without bonds. But she says she enjoys the job of the swimming coach at Rajagiri School Kalamassery, thanks to the new curriculum amendment which precisely spots swimming as a part of education.
A PG student of Economics at Vimala College, Trichur, she continues her profession a passion thanking the never-ending co-operation of the college authorities. Unlike many disheartened talents waiting to be spotted, like a diving swan she vanished once again into the blue pool only to rise up with the giggles of her tiny tots who fuel her ambitions.