Virdhawal Khade wants to make a splash as coach too 

A 2010 Asian Games medallist, Khade made his Olympic swimming debut in Beijing. After missing London and Rio, he is eyeing a career high in Tokyo.

By Naveen Peter

He might have a few more years left in his competitive career, but that hasn’t stopped India’s Virdhawal Khade from planning for a future after swimming.

The youngest swimmer from the country to compete at the Olympics, the 28-year-old Virdhwal Khade has his eyes fixed on returning to the pool as a coach once he decides to hang up his trunks. 

“I definitely will get into coaching. I’m already doing my certifications,” said the Indian swimmer speaking with Indian Winter Olympian Shiva Keshavan during an Instagram Live session.

“I’ve done the American Swimming Coaches certification and I have done the Australian Swimming Coaches certification with Hakim (Hakimuddin Habibulla who represented India at Sydney 2000). I think I see myself being a coach in the next couple of years.”

While it’s no surprise to see former athletes returning to their discipline as coaches, what sets Virdhawal Khade apart from the rest is his goal that he wishes to set for himself.

“My long term goal will be to coach an Olympian and maybe get an Olympic medal out of one of my students,” one of India’s foremost swimmers said. 

Virdhawal Khade made the cut for Beijing 2008 as a 16-year-old but admittedly didn’t realise the magnitude of his achievement until he stepped inside the Games village.

“When I qualified for the Olympics, I just didn’t know what I had done. I had heard that the Olympics is the ultimate dream, but because I was so young and I come from a small place in Kolhapur, I could barely wrap my head around it,” the Indian swimmer confessed. 

Virdhawal’s Games village tale

“So, till I landed in Beijing I didn’t really know what I was going for. The significance of it and the importance of it didn’t strike me till I entered the Games village. 

“There I saw people like Micheal Phelps and Roger Federer and (Rafael) Nadal and the best athletes in the world and that’s when it struck me. That I belonged here.

I was so proud to represent India there. And from there on, it just became my goal to become good at everything,” Virdhawal Khade added. “And that’s kind of the Olympic spirit. 

“When you get to that stage it’s all about improving yourself. I think that just changed my entire life."

Over the years, Virdhawal Khade has faced numerous challenges in his career. While he enjoyed the highs of winning a medal at the 2010 Asian Games, he also had to endure the lows of missing out on making the London 2012 and Rio 2016 teams. 

But one thing that’s stayed constant is his hunger to improve and go the extra mile. And it’s something that’s pushing him as another Olympics approaches. 

“You know I love to win and hate to lose. Every time I lose a race, I want to go back, work harder and win the same race next time around. So that’s what kept me going,” he shared.