Home Inter-IIT; my last one as a player; opening match; Madras in opposition, the anger of previous years’ pathetic refereeing; all wingies, seniors and juniors there to watch – too much was really at stake ! When the last quarter of the first water-polo match of 2009 Inter-IIT started game had been stuck at 4-2 for far too long. I took a good look around and could sense the tension on everyone’s faces. Just then a failed attempt at our goal and I knew it was time to break the deadlock. “Move-forward”, I told myself; “Swim-faster”, I repeated and I swam. By the time I reached the opponent’s side, Pulkit had scored. We were just sort of back in the game and then Aneesh and Pappu scored a goal each in the last two minutes. Opponents didn’t know what had hit them. Whenever I tell this story, I just like to quote that – “This, my friends, is what champions are made of ” That year, we went on to create history by winning both swimming and water-polo championships in the same year for the first time in over 4 decades. I was happy to just see my team-mates so ecstatic and this made me realize the value of a collective success over any individual achievement.
As I recuperated from all the happiness, I remembered how it was only 3 years ago when I first came to IIT, how I was able to swim barely 50m and had never played water polo before. Over the years, the seniors in the team trained me, nurtured me and helped me as I strived to grow from the weakest contender to a core member of what we call the ‘aquatics family’. As I went on, my team mates practiced hard with me in pushing limits together, irrespective of break neck sprints, cramped legs or even red teary eyes from all the chlorine. It was this very hard work and this very team spirit that led us to the victory. When I joined aquatics in 2006, IIT Kanpur had just won its first medal ever and as I graduated in 2010, I was proud to have seen the development of a very cohesive culture in the aquatics team – a culture of striving together and more importantly, striving together ‘to win’. This very culture is the reason why I still continue to mentor the current team, why I travel every October to the Inter-IIT meets to cheer them and why we still win at the Inter-IIT every year (well, almost every year). This long journey of 8+ years with the IITK Aquatics family has taught me a lot of things, but most of all it has made me realize that the only thing greater, bigger and more important that winning is ‘winning again’ and while winning takes talent, teamwork, practice, stamina, skill, mindset and a whole lot of things that I can talk about, but what ‘winning again’ takes , in addition to all of above is ‘the culture’ that I refer to. When I was told that IITK had won its first ever general championship, I was really almost in tears. I remembered how me and Pappu would talk about this. How we would think about the day that this dream would come true and thanks to the efforts of numerous of you, that it did. But, I think there’s a whole lot that remains to be done even now – because as I mentioned earlier that the only thing greater, bigger and more important that winning is ‘winning again’. Best of luck for all upcoming Inter-IITs ! IITK ka tempo high hai !