Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Curtain raiser: 2007 Senior National Swimming Championships – Panaji, Goa

The biggest event on the Indian swimming calendar – Senior National Swimming Championship – begins tomorrow at Panaji, Goa. The next five days are going to be filled some great action. To make things more exciting, FINA* has considered this year’s national championships to be a Qualifying meet for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This is going to be a great opportunity for all those who are really close to making the cut. This is the first time, in my personal experience, that there are so many contenders close to the qualifying time. It must be kept in mind that the qualifying times for the 2008 Beijing Olympics have been made significantly faster than earlier Olympics. Click here for the 2008 Olympic qualifying procedures.

Some of the swimmers to look out for:

Sandeep Sejwal (Breaststroke) – he is in great form and is within striking distance from the Olympic qualifying mark in the 100 and 200m Breaststroke. He won one gold and two silver medals – 50m Breaststroke (Silver), 100m Breaststroke (Gold with Record) and 200m Breaststroke (Silver) – at last month’s Asian Age-Group Swimming Championship at Jakarta, Indonesia. In the process he also bettered the National record (aka Best Indian Performance) in all the three events.

Rehan Poncha (Butterfly, Backstroke, Individual medley) – he too is in good form as he created National Records in the 200 and 400m IM at the Asian Age-Group Swimming Championships.

Arjun Muralidharan (Butterfly, Backstroke) – Last year’s individual champion who would be keen on retaining the title this year too.

Rohit Havaldar and Aaron D’Souza (Long distance Freestyle) – These two are continuously pushing the barriers of long distance freestyle. Aaron despite being the younger one, 15yrs old, showed that he cannot be counted out by setting a National record and winning the gold in the 800m Freestyle at the Asian Age-Group Swimming Championships.

Praveen Tokas and Sandeep N. A. (Backstroke) – These two backstroke specialists will be joined by Rehan and Arjun to make all the backstroke races extremely exciting.

Shikha Tandon (Sprint Freestyle) – she is the closest, amongst the girls, to making the Olympic qualifying mark. She is making a comeback after a shoulder surgery last year and has been steadily getting stronger and faster. If she does make the qualifying mark, she would become the first Indian swimmer to participate at two Olympics.

Richa Mishra (Butterfly, Individual Medley) – she is the best form of her life. At the Asian Age-Group Swimming Championships she created National Records in 100, 200m Butterfly and 400 IM. She would be looking forward to keeping the Individual champion title with her for one more year.

J. Agnishwar (Breaststroke and Individual Medley), Ashwin Menon (Middle distance freestyle), Lekha Kamath (Sprint Freestyle and Butterfly), Fariha Zaman (Backstroke), Pooja Alva (Butterfly and Freestyle) – are the others names that are sure to make the rounds.

The two names that will be missing:

Virdhawal Khade’s absence is going to keep the sprint Freestyle category open. Virdhawal is the only swimmer to have so far qualified for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He achieved the qualifying time in the 200m Freestyle, clocking 1:52.41, at the 2007 World Swimming Championships at Melbourne, Australia in March this year. He is busy preparing for his 10th board exams which begin on October 4th. He missed his exams earlier this year as he chose to participate at the World Swimming Championships.

Ankur Poseria (Sprint Freestyle and Butterfly) is another swimmer who will be missing in action. He studies and trains at University of Southern California, USA. He is within striking distance from making the Olympic qualifying mark in the 100m Butterfly. His recent time of 55.00sec at the USA Swimming National Championships leaves him 0.29sec off the qualifying mark.

* FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation) – founded in 1908, it is the international governing body for Aquatic sports – which include swimming, diving, synchronized swimming, water polo and open water swimming. It is headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland. The current President is Mustapha Larfaoui from Algeria.

1 comment:

Archu said...

Good info Hakim! Its great you started blogging on something which has become your identity :-) About time the comments came from someone who knows the sport best!!