The supremacy of the Indian swimmers should hardly be tested at the Dr. Zakir Hussain swimming pool in Guwahati from Saturday. The swimming competitions of the 12th South Asian Games, like in all the previous ditions, are sure to be a one-sided affair. And the Swimming Federation of India has fielded a near full strength team, including the likes of Veerdhawal Khade, Sandeep Sejwal, Supriya Mondal and Sajan Prakash in the men’s section and Shivani Katoria, Maana Patel, Harshitha Jayaram and Damini V. Gowda in the women’s division.
Khade, as usual, will be India’s trump card in the sprint events of the men’s section, while Sandeep Sejwal is expected to hold fort in the breast-stroke events. In butterfly, Supriya Mondal will be the man to beat, as is the case with P. S. Madhu and M. Aravind in back-stroke. In the distance events of freestyle, Sajan Prakash and compatriot Saurav Sangvekar are expected to hold sway, much as Sonu Debnath is likely to emerge unscathed in the two individual medley events.
Shivani the favourite
In the women’s section, Shivani Katoria is the favourite to win the sprint events in the company of Maana Patel, who is certain to hold the centre-stage in back-stroke. In the breast-stroke events, India would be expecting a 1-2 from Harshitha Jayaram and Chahat Arora, while V. Malavika, Damini K. Gowda and Shraddha Sudhir could also be adding to the yellow metal tally of the host in the freestyle distance, butterfly and individual medley events respectively.
Talking about the prospects of the team to the media on Friday, the Indian national coach, S. Pradeep Kumar, said the team was fully geared to meet any challenge. “We have a good camp and all our swimmers are in fine fettle. The only challenge the team is expected to face is from the Sri Lankan swimmers who have improved a bit in recent years. But given the home conditions and the support from the crowd, I am sure that both our men and women swimmers will deliver what is expected of them without much of a problem,” he said.
The conditions too seem to be in favour of the Indian swimmers as the weather, which had remained quite cold here through the last several weeks, has improved considerably. The swimmers will anyway be aided by the controlled water temperature in the pool.