On the final day of the 2014 Bermuda National Championships on Sunday, Pryanka Priyadrshni won the women’s 50 breaststroke in 30.88, which for the 17-year old pushes her to a height not often seen in Indian swimming.
That time not only breaks her own Indian Record by three-and-a-half seconds, it moves Priyadrshni to 5th in the 2014 World Rankings, ahead of names like Jessica Hardy, Moniek Nijhuis, and Rikke Moeller-Pedersen.
A swim that stands out so far has been unsurprisingly broiled in controversy, as several people on deck told SwimSwam that it was their belief that another Indian swimmer, by the name of Agnishwar Jayaprakash, swam the race instead of Priyadrshni. Jayaprakash is a man.
Despite those claims and concerns, there was provided no evidence of any wrongdoing and simply hearsay and disbelief, so the Bermuda Amateur Swimming Federation told the local Royal Gazette newspaper that the time would stand.
After the race, Priyadrshni stood by her swim in comments to the Gazette, saying that if she hadn’t swum the race, a swimmer in a lane next to her, who was familiar with Priyardshni, would have supported the claim. Jayaprakash, who has been accused of taking her spot in the race, didn’t swim in the men’s race immediately thereafter despite being entered.
While there were photographers at the meet that would normally have conclusive evidence in a matter such as this after such a fast time, local observers tell us that those photographers were only present during the finals sessions.
That swim was done by Priyadrshni in prelims. After the races, she says that she rushed to the bathroom feeling ill, only to slip on the wet floor and sprain her ankle. That sprained ankle kept her from racing again in finals.
SwimSwam was promised an email on the matter by Sunday evening, but as of Monday morning had not received a response from the Bermuda Amateur Swimming Association for comment. They reiterated to the Royal Gazette, however, that because of the lack of evidence substantiating any claims or even an official protest, the time would be submitted as official.
This means that Priyadrshni has qualified for the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the 2015 World Championships, as the Bermuda Championships are an official FINA Worlds qualifying event. We have asked FINA for comment on if they will investigate the time further, and as of publishing have not received a response.
Beyond Priyadrshni (or Jayaprakash), there were a few other standout performers at this weekend’s meet.
2008 and 2012 Olympian Roy-Allan Burch broke a National Record in the 50 fly, swimming a 25.08. Burch said on Monday morning that he’s only been working on his fly for a few months, so while he hoped to go under 25 seconds, he was happy with the time.
He and Julia Fletcher will represent Bermuda at the Commonwealth Games this summer. Not making the qualifying standards were Lisa Blackburn and Rebecca Heyliger, both of whom were on the verge of qualification.
Also not making the standards, but bringing high hopes, was Ashley Irby. She won 6 events (the 50/100/200/400/800 frees, plus the 50 back) and broke two National Age Group Records.
Also impressive at the meet was Tyler Mazurek, a 16-year old based out of Swim Atlanta in the United States. He was a 4:57.09 in the men’s 400 IM to break a National Age Group Record by 8 seconds. That placed him 2nd behind the aforementioned Jayaprakash, who won in 4:56.49.