Courtesy: Swimming Federation of India
This might not be the meet he’s looking to bring his ‘A’ game to, but that barely stopped Srihari Nataraj from entertaining the spectators with his swim at the Prakash Tarun Pushkar Bhavan as he won races and set a meet record on the penultimate day of the 73rd Glenmark Senior National Aquatic Championships on Tuesday.
The Karnataka swimmer was in his elements as he started well and eked out a slender lead by the time the swimmers emerged ahead of the 15-metre mark. Though his State-mate Rakshit Shetty and Madhu PS of the Services gave him some stiff competition, the 18-year-old staved off the challenge to clinch the gold in 25.58 seconds. The timing helped him dip the meet record further down from 26.18 seconds that he’d set in Thiruvananthapuram last year.
However, despite the record, Srihari didn’t seem much happy with his performance. “It was an average start. I think I could have done better. Since we were on the shallow end, I couldn’t go deep and that hurt my start. I think I was rusty in the initial 20-25 meters. I tried to keep an eye on Rakshit (Shetty of Karnataka) to be in the leading pack. Thankfully, it worked out well,” he said.
Having swum on every day of the competition in Bhopal, Srihari will be taking to the pool for the 100m backstroke, an event he’s closest to qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, on the final day. But the swimmer was not much concerned about the fatigue factor. “Well, that’s something that I can’t control. I haven’t planned anything for tomorrow. I will swim the heats and see how good a shape I am in and we’ll take it from there. Thankfully for us, we aren’t banking on this meet much. The plan is to go all-out at the Asian age-group (in three weeks from now).” he said.
Earlier, the day began with both Kushagra Rawat and Shivani Kataria setting new meets records in their respective events.
Having won the 1500m and 400m freestyles in fine fashion, Rawat continued his dominance on distance swimming, winning the 800m freestyle gold in record time. The SAI-Glenmark Aquatic Centre trainee clocked 8:09.47 for the win, obliterating the previous best of 08:12.51 set by Advait Page in 2018.
Meanwhile, Kataria was miles headed of her competitors in the 200m freestyle final. The Rio Olympian clocked 2:05.80 for the gold, dipping her existing mark set last year by 0.06 seconds.
The Maharashtra quartet of Mihir Ambre, Rujuta Khade, Kenisha Gupta and Virdhawal Khade clocked 1:39.69 to win the 4x50m mixed freestyle relay in record time. They clocked 1:39.69, obliterating the previous best of 1:40.00 set by SFI in 2018.
Men: 100m freestyle: Srihari Nataraj (Kar) 50.59, 1; Anand AS (Services) 51.49, 2; Vinay Saharan (Services) 52.87, 3.
800m freestyle: Kushagra Rawat (Del) 8:09.47, (NMR, OR: Advait Page 8:12.51, Thiruvananthapuram, 2018), 1; Soumyajit Saha (Railways) 8:32.01, 2; Sushrut S Kapse (Railways) 8:33.58, 3.
100m butterfly: Sajan Prakash (Pol) 54.25, 1; Mihir Ambre (Mah) 54.38, 2; Supriya Mondal (Railways) 54.47, 3.
Women: 200m freestyle: Shivani Kataria (Har) 2:05.80 (NMR, OR: Shivani Kataria 2:05.86, Thiruvananthapuram, 2018), 1; Kenisha Gupta (Mah) 2:07.94, 2; Khushi Dinesh (Kar) 2:10.49, 3.
50 backstroke: Maana Patel (Guj) 30.39, 1; Jyotsna Pansare (Mah) 30.82, 2; Ridhima Veerendra Kumar (Kar) 30.87, 3.
100m butterfly: Divya Satija (Har) 1:04.38, 1; Apeksha Fernandes (Mah) 1:05.53, 2; Nina Venkatesh (Kar) 1:05.98, 3.
4×200 freestyle relay: Karnataka 9:04.86, 1; Maharashtra 9:08.51, 2; Tamil Nadu 9:09.18, 3.
4x50m mixed freestyle relay: Maharashtra 1:39.69 (NMR; OR: 1:40.00, SFI, 2018) 1; Railways 1:41.83, 2; Karnataka 1:41.92