Bengaluru: From a high point of being India's top swimmer to the low of missing the 2012 London Olympics cut, Rehan Poncha has gone through a gamut of emotions over the past 18 months.
When his London dreams were squashed, Poncha bid adieu to the sport he had once dominated nationally, but the sportsperson in him continued to thrive. Having spent two decades in the pool, the passion to swim dried up, but his fairway dreams were just beginning to light up. Poncha immersed himself into the business of learning golf.
A year on, having moved from his swimming base in Bengaluru to Pune, he now plays club-level golf and harbours dreams of participating in amateur tournaments in the near future. While he believes it's only a matter of time before he turns professional, the Beijing Olympian is also looking at training young swimmers.
As a youngster with fresh ideas, Poncha last week embarked on the new journey with a two-day clinic at the CCI in Mumbai. In due course, he's hoping to conduct workshops across the country for aspiring champions.
"I always wanted to coach and began my swimming academy after I retired from competitive swimming. I have now come up with a two-day coaching clinic that I conduct for competitive swimmers. All through my career I felt that if there was someone who could mentor me, someone who had been through what I went through in terms of racing abroad, it would have been a lot easier for me to cope with swimming and its challenges," said Poncha.
"I do believe that India does have many great coaches, but my clinic is the first of its kind and I am confident that the experience I have gained over 18 years of swimming is definitely worth sharing with today's talent."
On the difference he can make in the life of young swimmers, the Arjuna awardee said, "Swimming has made me what I am today . I believe I owe the sport and what better way than to help sportsmen get better in the best way I know.
We already have several excellent coaches in India, but I also believe that what I have to offer through my clinics will give the swimmers a new way of looking at the sport and hopefully a shorter road to success."
At 26, Poncha is on the threshold of charting a new path in golf, but at the same time his expertise in swimming is likely to help nurture future champions, just like him.