Aaron D’Souza’s long swim to redemption

Aaron's personal best of 50.97s — a national record, set at the 2015 National Games — leaves him nearly under two seconds off the mark. The National Games, however, is not among the list of qualification events approved by FINA.

Aaron D'souza in action at the 35th National Games held in Thiruvananthapuram on February 07, 2015.   -  S. Mahinsha

Since his Olympic-sized disappointment four years ago, Aaron D'Souza has embarked on a long road to redemption.

In an announcement that surprised the swimming fraternity, Karnataka's A.P. Gagan was selected to represent the country at the 2012 London Olympics via the ‘Universality’ quota, even though Aaron and three other Indians boasted of superior records.

“To miss the bus because of a quota rule was devastating. It took me nearly a year to get back into the pool,” Aaron said, at the launch of 'Team Speedo' with Nisha Millet, who will act as a mentor to nine promising Indian swimmers.

After the self-imposed hiatus, the Karnataka lad began to train under the watchful eyes of Dronacharya Awardee Nihar Ameen. The duo set their sights on gaining a spot at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The qualification time for the mega-event has been set at 48.99s (100m freestyle), and Aaron is some distance away from making the cut. The 23-year-old has until July 3 to achieve this timing.

Aaron's personal best of 50.97s — a national record, set at the 2015 National Games — leaves him nearly under two seconds off the mark. The National Games, however, is not among the list of qualification events approved by FINA.

The 'Universality' quota — which had helped Gagan realise an unlikely dream — could come to Aaron's rescue. However, the beneficiaries of this complex selection procedure will be known only a short while before the action at Rio commences.

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