Rehan enthrals with four records

The Karnataka team, which won the overall title.-Pic. SANDEEP SAXENA

INDIAN swimming has found a new hope. Karnataka's Rehan Poncha had been on the horizon for quite some time, but after a three-month training stint in Australia, Rehan has shown a tremendous promise to go all the way.

For a 17-year-old Indian, even an Olympic qualification would be a noteworthy achievement. Though younger swimmers from powerhouses such as Australia and the U.S. had been making the Olympic mark, for an Indian junior such an achievement itself would place him above the country's rest.

On way to achieving a unique distinction of winning all his events in National record time, in the boys Group I, Rehan inched closer to his goal too.

In the 30th Junior National swimming championship at the Talkatora Complex in New Delhi, Rehan won the 200m butterfly in 2 minutes 09.20 seconds. What stood out most, besides the fact that he bettered his own record (2:10.26) set in the 2002 Chennai Nationals, was his slow but, steady march towards the Olympic Qualification Time (QT).

"The 200m fly is my event. I am aiming at achieving Olympic QT in that," Rehan said after winning his fourth medal. "What I am looking at is to drop my time to 2:06 or 2:05 in the Barcelona World championships," he added.

The Karnataka swimmer is pacing his qualification in such a way that he would be ready with the necessary time at the Asian Age-group championship in China later this year. The event, earlier known as Asia-Pacific championship, is an Olympic qualifying tournament. The Olympic QT for 200m butterfly is set at 2:04 minutes.

Besides the butterfly event, Rehan won his other gold medals in 400m freestyle, 200m Individual Medley and 400m Individual Medley.

In the girls Group I, Karnataka's V. Sivaranjini was a class apart. One of the four who qualified for the Swimming worlds, Sivaranjini won all the five events she entered. The versatile swimmer won freestyle races in 400m, 800m and 1,500m and Individual Medleys in 200m and 400m.

Her domination in these events was so absolute that the opposition was not even a touch closer to her tracks. The decision of the Swimming Federation of India (SFI) to limit the number of events each swimmer could participate in, probably, prevented Sivaranjini from going in for more glory.

In the Group II boys' category, Rohith R. Hawaldar, again of Karnataka, showed his supremacy over the freestyle class. But for the 50m race, Rohith won all other races — 100m, 200m, 400m and the newly introduced 800m and 1,500m.

On the positive front, the SFI's decision to infuse the habit of long distance swimming from such an early age was a welcome step. Besides the two long distance events in freestyle, the SFI also included 4x200m freestyle relay from this edition of the championship.

If that was any indication of better times ahead for the long distance swimmers, then it needs a serious and proper implementation. Basically, barring a few, there were very few swimmers who were ready to go beyond the confines of 400m.

With such a glorious performance, there hardly was any challenger to Karnataka for the overall team championship title. It also won the team and individual best swimmer's awards for both boys and girls.

The water polo championship, however, witnessed an upset. The Maharashtra girls were shocked by Karnataka, which won the title for the first time. Water polo had been Maharashtra's forte for long, but Karnataka sprang a surprise with rock-solid goalkeeper Mrinalini who blocked so many sure chances with her agility. Karnataka won 3-1.

The boys' title was won by Bengal, which made easy work of Kerala to win 14-4.

The results (winners only): Boys: Group I:

Freestyle: 50m: Aniketh D'Souza (Mar) 25.07s. 100: Parikshit Shetty (Mah) 56.02. 200m: Srinivas Srinand (Kar) 2:02.60. 400m: Rehan Poncha (Kar) 4:13.60 nr (OLD 4:14.41). 800m: Chetan Sharma (Kar) 9:09.71. 1,500m: Chetan Sharma (Kar) 17:57.00.

Backstroke: 50m: Samir Das (Ben) 29.71. 100m: Abhiram N.S. (Kar) 1:04.77. 200m: Abhiram N.S. (Kar) 2:20.50.

Butterfly: 50m: B. Vinod Kumar (Kar) 27.18s. 100m: Arjun Murlidharan (Mah) 1:00.73. 200m: Rehan Poncha (Kar) 2:09.20 NR (old 2:10.26).

Breaststroke: 50m: Madhukumar B.M. (Kar) 31.16s NR (old 32.75). 100m: Gairik Bardhan (Ben) 1:10.18. 200m: Gairik Bardhan (Ben) 2:31.95.

Individual medley: 200m: Rehan Poncha (Kar) 2:14.33 NR (old 2:16.69). 400m: Rehan Poncha (Kar) 4:42.57 NR (old 4:46.82).

Relays: 4x100m freestyle: Karnataka 3:51.92. 4x200m freestyle: Karnataka 8.35.17. 4x100m Medley relay: Karnataka 4:17.04 NR (old 4:19.34).

Group II:

Freestyle: 50m: Bharat Kumar V. (Kar) 26.94s. 100m: Rohith R. Hawaldar (Kar) 1:00.53. 200m: Rohith R. Hawaldar (Kar) 2:10.38. 400m: Rohith Hawaldar (Mar) 4:31.37. 800m: Rohith R. Hawaldar (Kar) 9:30.97. 1,500m: Hawaldar (Kar) 18:26.90.

Backstroke: 50m: Sandeep N. A. (Kar) 31.48. 100m: Sushanth Krishna (TN) 1:07.24. 200m: Dhaval Bharitkar (Mah) 2:25.29.

Butterfly: 50m: Bharath Kumar V. (Kar) 28.81s. 100m: Bharath Kumar V. (Kar) :1:03.02. 200m: Aditya Sangwekar (Mah) 2:20.36.

Breaststroke; 50m: Arjun J. P. (Kar) 34.30s. 100m: Arjun J. P. (Kar) 1:15.46. 200m: Sandeep Sejwal (Del) 2:43.53.

Individual medley: 200m: Bharath Kumar V. (Kar) 2:27.03. 400m: Arjun J. P. (Kar) 5:10.90.

Relays: 4x100m freestyle: Tamil Nadu 4:05.95. 4x200m freestyle: Tamil Nadu 9:00.96. 4x100m medley: Karnataka 4:32.81.

Girls: Group I:

Freestyle: 50m: Amrapali Das Gupta (Ben) 29.10s. 100m: Ambica N. S. Iyengar (Kar) 1:01.67. 200m: Ambica N. S. Iyengar (Kar) 2:12.87. 400m: V. Sivaranjini (Kar) 4:48.30. 800m: V. Sivaranjini (Kar) 9:46.23. 1,500m: Sivaranjini (Kar) 19:04.09.

Backstroke: 50m: Komal Athare (Mah) 33.18s. 100m: Komal Athare (Mah) 1:10.53. 200m: Komal Athare (Mah) 2:34.13.

Butterfly: 50m: Manasi Shelke (Mah) 31.75s. 100m: Pooja Gorpade (Mah) 1:10.86. 200m: Pooja Ghorpade (Mah) 2:37.97.

Breaststroke: 50m: Mrudula D. (Kar) 37.97s. 100m: Ambica N. S. Iyengar (Kar) 1:19.50. 200m: Ambica N. S. Iyengar (Kar) 2:51.49.

Individual medley: 200m: V. Sivaranjani (Kar) 2:33.78. 400m: V. Sivaranjini (Kar) 5:31.43.

Relays: 4x100m: freestyle: Karnataka 4:23.57. 4x200m freestyle: Karnataka 9:51.14. 4x100m medley: Karnataka 4:58.30.

Group II:

Freestyle: 50m: Tejaswini V. (Kar) 30.53s. 100m: Niveditha M. S. (Kar) 1:05.36. 200m: Shubha C. (Kar) 2:21.09. 400m: Justine Mellocastro (Mah) 5:00.13. 800m: Justine Mellocastro (Mah) 10:26.40. 1,500m: 1. Shubha C. (Kar) 20:32.97.

Backstroke: 50m: Aishwarya R. (TN) 35.44. 100m: Niveditha M. S. (Kar) 1:17.99. 200m: Amita Udpikar (Mah) 2:45.57.

Butterfly: 50m: Shubha C. (Kar) 30.79s NR (old 31.31). 100m: Shubha C. (Kar) 1:08.54 NR (old 1:08.69). 200m: Shubha C. (Kar) 2:39.11.

Breaststroke: 50m: M. S. Divya (AP) 38.37s. 100m: Nimisha Gupta (Mah) 1:25.21. 200m: Nimisha Gupta (Mah) 2:59.34.

Individual medley: 200m: Jestine Mellocastro (Mah) 2:41.02. 400m: Niveditha M. S. (Kar) 5:41.28.

Relays: 4x100m freestyle; Karnataka 4:32.20. 4x200m freestyle: Karnataka 9:59.70. 4x100m medley: Karnataka 5:04.13.

Team championship:

Overall: Karnataka 714 points. Boys: Group I: Karnataka 177 points. Group II: Karnataka 156. Girls: Group I: Marnataka 158; Group II: Karnataka 223.

Best swimmers: Boys: Group I: Rehan Poncha (Kar); Group II: Rohith Havaldar (Kar). Girls: Group I: V. Sivaranjini (Kar); Group II: Shubha C. (Kar).

Water polo: Final:

Boys: Bengal bt Kerala 14-4. Girls: Karnataka bt Maharashtra 3-1.

Third place:

Boys: Maharashtra bt Punjab 15-1. Girls: Kerala bt Bengal 8-3.

Semifinals:

Boys: Bengal bt Maharashtr a11-7; Kerala bt Punjab 10-0.

Girls: Karnataka bt Kerala 5-4; Maharashtra bt Bengal 4-2.

Kirti Patil