Focus on Asian Games stars at National swimming Ch'ship

At the National Swimming Championship in Kerala, all eyes will be on India's Asian Games 2018 stars.

Sajan Prakash, who finished fifth in 200m butterfly at the Asian Games in Jakarta, is looking forward to a good showing at the National Championship.   -  AP

Three years after he blitzed the pool at Dr. BR Ambedkar Aquatic Complex in Pirappancode, Sajan Prakash returns to his favourite venue which plays host to the Glenmark 72nd National swimming championship from Wednesday.

The five day meet will serve as selection trials for FINA world meet in China and other international competitions this season.

Sajan lived a dream three years ago when he won six gold medals at the National Games. The 25-year-old will be looking for another gold rush as he spearheads Kerala's campaign at the National meet.

Sajan, who finished fifth in his favourite event - 200m butterfly - at the Jakarta Asian Games, has prepared earnestly for this meet. He trained with his personal coach S.Pradeep Kumar in Dubai for three weeks after the Asian Games and is mentally refreshed. Sajan hopes to go under 1.57s in 200m butterfly and hopes to qualify for the world meet.

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Coach S.Pradeep Kumar is happy with the progress Sajan has made and is hopeful that his ward would qualify for the world meet. Sajan will be competing in five events including the relay and his presence will be a big boost to the Kerala team.

Teenage sensation Srihari Nataraj will be another swimmer who will corner all the attention at the meet. Setting national records have become a habit for this young lad and the teenager is brimming with confidence after a good show at the Asian Games. The Karnataka swimmer entered two finals at the Asiad and set two national records. Srihari performance will be closely watched as many expect him to be Indian swimming's next big star.

Virdhawal Khade, who broke India's medal drought at the Asian Games in 2010, is probably on his last hurrah. The 27-year-old swimmer from Maharashtra missed the bronze medal by a whisker in Jakarta. Khade will be competing in Thiruvananthapuram and said his aim is to qualify for the world meet.

Internationals Aaron D'Souza Saurabh Sangavakar, Anshul Kothari and Sandeep Sejwal are some of the other prominent swimmers taking part in the five day meet.

In the women's section, Maana Patel will be making a comeback from injury. The 18-year-old had been nursing a shoulder injury during the past year. After rehabilitation, Maana announced her comeback in style by setting meet records at the Gujarat State championship.

She will be returning to a venue where she set meet records in the National Games in 2015. The teenager, who will be competing in freestyle and back stoke events and in the relays, hopes to give her best and qualify for the world meet.

Competition will also be held in diving and water polo. The swimming finals will be held under the floodlights.