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Oman’s ‘swimming doctor’ to return home

By Hubert

After training swimmers in Muscat for free for over three decades, it’s now time for Dr Rajendra Sanghavi to bid good-bye  to Oman

With over three and a half decades of voluntarily training swimmers in Muscat for free, Dr Rajendra Sanghavi, an expatriate general practitioner who converted his personal hobby into a seamless sensation, now plans to go back to his hometown in Jamnagar (in the western Indian state of Gujarat) to spend a retired life.

The man who had learnt swimming in his early youth in the Nagmati river in Jamnagar – a river that originates in Kutch region and ultimately emerges into the Arabian Sea – never knew then that, years later, he would be training swimmers for decades at the other end of the Arabian Sea, off Muscat.

“My cousin taught me to swim in the river by throwing me into it like a football. But I never knew the amazing feeling of swimming in the Sea until I came to Oman and one day ventured out to the beach at Old Muscat, what is now known as Muttrah corniche,” Dr Sanghavi told TheWeek, explaining how he was totally overwhelmed after taking an initial dip in the sea in the early 1980s.

After discovering a new way of keeping his passion for swimming alive, Dr Sanghavi started teaching a few of his friends with the sole intention of himself having company for pursuing his hobby. He then learnt a new style of swimming from an enthusiastic Omani lad at Al Falaj swimming pool and soon took his hobby to the beach near the Intercontinental Hotel at Qurm, long before Shatti al Qurm was created.

Soon, he found himself teaching a large number of interested individuals and often invited bystanders at the beach to join in his soiree by the sea which was later conducted at Bandar Jissah. Through contact with existing swimmers many more individuals and families joined the informal swimming classes over the years, such that Dr Sanghavi has till date trained over a 1000 swimmers.

The current batch includes around 300 swimmers and over 20 coaches who have been trained by Dr Sanghavi, some of them specialists is different styles of swimming as well as for different age groups. The current location for training is Kalbou beach which Dr Sanghavi says is quite safe and ideal

for learners.

Dr Sanghavi also conducts informal graduation get-togethers once every year when he awards medals to successful candidates. He himself spends towards procuring uniforms for his coaches and for all other expenses for the graduation ceremony and for running the show regularly.

The time has now come for Dr Sanghavi to bid goodbye to Oman and return to his hometown, and he has passed on all management and training responsibilities to his coaches to continue this tradition in his absence. However, his heart remains connected with the group and he is not sure how he would be able to emotionally detach himself from this obsession that has been part of his entire life in Oman.

Lessons learnt

“I have learnt to be patient. This is something I never had in the past. I also learnt leadership qualities, how to organise and manage huge groups and how to motivate others,” says Dr Sanghavi.

Will miss Oman

“Oman is such a beautiful country where you have a rare combination of the town side life and the luxury of a metropolis. Staying here for 46 years, the place has grown on me. Omani people are very hospitable and being a doctor they have loved and respected me very much. Many people have also expressed their gratitude following treatment in many unique ways. This has made me more humble.”


“I will do voluntary work in my hometown but I don’t want to be tied down. I love travelling and I would love to continue travelling with my wife. I am taking along a lot of memories and many marine artefacts. As I leave, I feel content that all my desires have been fulfilled. God has been more than kind to me.”