A swimmer with great potential

Aaron D’Souza with the medals he won at the Asian Youth Championship in Singapore.-G. P. SAMPATH KUMAR

Following his good performance at the Asian Youth Championship, Aaron D’Souza is aiming to win a few more medals at the Asian Age Group Championship starting in Tokyo on August 9. By Kalyan Ashok.

India might not be a force in world swimming, or for that matter even at the Asian level, but Aaron D’Souza, aged 17, made a mark with his outstanding display at the Asian Youth Championship held in Singapore (July 2-6). The former Indian junior champion clocked a personal best 1:52.22s to win the gold in the 200m freestyle. He also won the 100m freestyle bronze, clocking 51.52s.

In the 200m butterfly, Aaron finished fourth in 2:03.65s and in the 100m butterfly he came sixth, clocking 56.33s. In the girls section, Aaron’s Karnataka team-mate Arhatha Magavi won the silver medal in the 200m butterfly.

The Indian National coach S. Pradeep Kumar regards Aaron as a swimmer with great potential. “The boy has the right attitude and works hard. He came to the Asian Youth Championship after a three-week break due to his examinations and did so well. True, he could have done much better in butterfly. He is only 17 and I expect great things from him in the future,” said the coach.

Aaron, who had earlier won a silver and a bronze medal in the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2008, was quite satisfied with his show. “If you ask me to rate my performance on scale of 10, I would say it was around 7 or 7.5. I am glad to have won medals in freestyle, especially the 200m freestyle which was very close. I wish I had done better in butterfly. The schedule was pretty tough and I had to swim 100m fly and 100m freestyle finals within a span of 25 to 30 minutes,” said Aaron.

The maiden Asian Youth Championship, according to Aaron, had a very competitive field. “We had strong competitors from Kuwait, Hong Kong and Korea and they were the ones I had to watch out for during my races,” Aaron said.

Aaron’s next stop is the Asian Age Group Championship starting in Tokyo on August 9. “I wish to improve by at least one to two seconds in all my events and win a few medals. This time I wish to win in fly events also,” he said.

Besides competing in the 100 and 200 freestyle and 100 and 200 butterfly races, Aaron will also take part in the 800m freestyle. “I am doing this after two years and I hope to do well,” he said.

The youngster is clearly focussed on his goals. “My short term goals are to win at the AAG and the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010. But my ambition is to become the first Indian to qualify for the semifinals in Olympics, in 2012. I have planned my work schedule and competitions towards that end,” said Aaron, who idolises Russian sprint ace Alexander Popov.

“The guy was so consistent, staying at the top in the 50m for nearly 15 years,” he said of his idol.

Though happy with the coaching at the BAC (Bangalore Aquatic Club), Aaron plans to go abroad for training. “I tried to train in Mexico, but the coach moved to Texas and there were financial constraints, but I now plan to go to Australia. We are working on those plans now,” he said.

For Aaron and his family, it was indeed a joyous season as his younger brother Shaun too made waves at the Junior National Championship in Jaipur recently. “He won the 200m freestyle gold in his age-group with a very impressive timing. I am quite proud of him,” said a beaming Aaron.