Srihari Nataraj bettered his national record in the 50m and 200m backstroke events and Sajan Prakash achieved the Olympic Standard Time (B-mark), in what were the only positives for India at the 18th FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea.
Srihari registered a timing of 25.83s, an improvement of .01 micro second on his existing national record. The Bangalore-based swimmer managed to shave off .29 microseconds with a new mark of 2:02.08 in the 200m backstroke. The 18-year-old's national record-setting performances could only yield him a 34th and a 32nd rank at the end of the heats and weren't enough to qualify for the final. In the 100m backstroke, he couldn't better his mark with a 55.55 effort and finished 36th overall.
While there is no 50m backstroke event, he still needs to improve by a second ( 2:01.03) to make the Olympic Selection Time (B-Mark) and 4.58 seconds qualify directly for the Olympics. A Universality place looks like the most plausible route for Tokyo 2020.
Read: Officials mess up lap count, swimmers forced to repeat 1500m event
Sajan Prakash, who competed in the 2016 Olympics, didn't rewrite his personal best marks but did enough in the 200m butterfly (1:58.45) to make the OST cut. According to the Olympic qualification process, a swimmer meeting the OST was eligible for entry, and their entry was allotted/filled in by ranking.
While Virdhawal Khade and S.P. Likith came within a second of their personal best, they finished 40 and above in their respective categories. Virdhawal, 28, finished 50th in the 50m freestyle and performed better for a 41st-place finish in the 50m butterfly.
Virdhawal could have made the OST cut if he came closer or emulated his personal best time of 22.43 which he registered at the Asian Games. The current OST is 22.67 and his best performance came outside the qualification period.
Likith needs to improve by more than a second to make the OST in the 100m breaststroke event.
Advait Page, who made the B-mark in 800m freestyle for Olympics at the Singapore Championships in June this year with a stupendous 8:00.76, finished nearly 10 seconds slower at the FINA Championships. Kushagra Rawat was the first Indian to make the B-standard for Tokyo 2020 with a 8:07.99 effort in the 800m freestyle category at the Thailand Age Group Championships in Bangkok in April. He competed in the 400m freestyle category at the world Championships and finished 37th.
If a country has no swimmers who meet either of the qualifying standards, it may enter one male and one female.
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