Courtesy: Swimming Federation of India
The 73rd Glenmark Senior National Aquatic Championships at the Prakash Tarun Pushkar in Bhopal came to life on the second day as the swimmers brought their ‘A’ game to the fore to set as many as four meet records on Sunday.
While the fastest swimmer in the country, Virdhawal Khade, retained his 50m freestyle crown, one of India’s brightest talent, Srihari Nataraj bettered his mark in the 200m backstroke with a fine swim on a rainy Sunday.
Delhi’s Kushagra Rawat and the Maharashtra quartet of Rutuja Khade Apeksha Fernandes, Sadhvi Dhuri and Kenisha Gupta too were among the record setters.
Taking the pool for his pet event, Khade was in his elements as he barely showed any signs of pressure to race his way to victory in 22.44 seconds, 0.06 seconds better than his previous mark set at the Thiruvananthapuram meet in 2009. “It was not a bad race, but I would have been happy if I could have done this at the (2018) Asian Games,” said the Maharashtra swimmer post the race.
Though the ‘A’ qualification time of the 2020 Olympic is still a bit far for Khade, the swimmer, who was coming on the back of a disappointing FINA World Championships last month, was confident of going better in the coming months. “I think I can get the ‘A’ cut. Yes, the World Championships were a disappointment because I got injured just before that. The ACL is still not 100% so I’m still 15-20% below what I can be. It’s ok while swimming but whenever I have to push off or turn, it’s a bit difficult but I’ve trained for the adjustments,” explained the senior swimmer.
Rawat, meanwhile, had no such trouble as he eased his way to win the 1500m freestyle in record time. The SAI-Glenmark Aquatic Centre trainee was comfortably ahead of his competitors by the fourth lap, and from there on it was all about pushing for a recording time. And Rawat did that without much fuss. He won the race in 15:41.45, obliterating the previous record of 15:42.67, set by Madhya Pradesh’s Advait Page in 2018.
“I was hoping for a 15:35 here, so a little disappointed with the time, but then a gold medal feels good,” said Rawat.
“I think I need to work on pacing my race better and then after a while, I had no one to push me, so that too went against what I was looking to achieve.”
Later in the day, Nataraj faced no real challenge in retaining his 200m backstroke title. Inching ahead of his competitors after the initial surge, Nataraj looked in firm control of the race as he went ahead to clock 2:02.29, bettering his previous mark of 2:02.37 set at the 2018 meet.
The day also saw the Maharashtra’s relay team retain their crown in some style. They clocked 4:02.90 for the gold, obliterating the previous best set at 4:03.05 by their compatriots at the 2014 meet.
Results: Men: 50m freestyle: Virdhawal Khade (Mah) 22.44, 1 (NMR; OR: 22.71, Virdhawal Khade, Mah, 2009) 1; Viraj Prabhu (Railways) 23.39, 2; Mihir Ambre (Mah) 23.76, 3.
1500m freestyle: Kushagra Rawat (Del) 15:41.45 (NMR; OR: 15:42.67, Advait Page, MP, 2018) 1; Sushrut Kapse (Railways) 16:29.27, 2; Aneesh Gowda (Kar) 16:32.28, 3.
200m backstroke: Srihari Nataraj (Kar) 2:02.29 (NMR; OR: 2:02.37, Srihari Nataraj, Kar, 2018) 1; Siva S (Kar) 2:07.11; 2; Arvind Mani (Services) 2:10.24, 3.
4x100m freestyle relay: Karnataka 3:30.45, 1; Services 3:31.04, 2; Maharashtra 3:31.18, 3.
Women: 200m backstroke: Maana Patel (Guj) 2:21.74, 1; Suvana Baskar 2:22.30, 2; Soubrity Mondal (Ben) 2:23.55, 3.
400m individual medley: Richa Mishra (Pol) 5:05.49, 1; Apeksha Fernandes (Mah) 5:12.91, 2; Shakti B (TN) 5:13.19, 3.
4x100m freestyle relay: Maharashtra 4:02.90 (NMR; OR: 4:03.05, Maharashtra, 2014) 1; Karnataka 4:09.88, 2; Tamil Nadu 4:13.25, 3.