National championship likely to be career finale for Sejwal

Ahead of the national aquatics championship that is set to begin on Saturday, Asian Games gold medallist Sandeep Sejwal has indicated he may retire from professional swimming after the tournament.

Sandeep Sejwal...“I have been training in Bangalore for the last four years now and I want to catch up with my family."   -  K. Murali Kumar

Despite going through a gruelling season in the run-up to the Olympics, the elite swimmers of the country are all set to compete in the 70th Glenmark national aquatics championship starting at the V.B.B. Stadium here from Saturday.

One of them, Asian Games bronze medallist Sandeep Sejwal, is fed-up of his decade-long hard work. “It is too physical. Tokyo (Olympics) is out of question but there is [also] a question mark over [whether I participate in] the 2018 Asian Games. I will take a break and assess,” said Sejwal on Friday.

Sejwal, who will participate in the 50m, 100m and 200m breast stroke, said even if he got selected, he would skip the Asian championship, for which the national championship would serve as a selection trial. “I have been training in Bangalore for the last four years now and I want to catch up with my family. No regrets. I gave my best but could not qualify for the Rio Olympics. Probably, this will be my last competition...I may turn to coaching,” said the 27-year-old.

However, Sajan Prakash, who made it to Rio, was enthusiastic. “I want to perform consistently. If I do well in the Asian championship, I can win a medal,” said Sajan, who would take part in 100m and 200m butterfly.

Aaron D'Souza, who was adjudged the best swimmer in the national championship at the same venue five years ago, would be seen in action in 50m and 100m backstroke and was keen to win back the distinction. Asian Games medallist and last year's best swimmer Virdhawal Khade's name is missing from the list of participants.

Among women, the centre of attraction will be Rio Olympian Shivani Kataria, participating in 50m, 100m and 400m freestyle and 50m butterfly.

Also, teenager Maana Patel, who has been winning the best female swimmer title for the last three editions, will give her best to retain her reputation. Maana trained for four-and-a-half months in the USA and participated in the pro-arena – featuring Olympians like Emily Seebohm, Madeline Dirado and Nathan Adrian – and was confident of her improvement.

"While here I prepare for the meet, there every meet I swam prepared me to be a better swimmer,” said Maana, who would take part in 50m, 100m, 200m backstroke and 50m and 100m freestyle.

Hiccups

Amid all the enthusiasm, the green hue of water in the V.B.B. Stadium was a cause of worry.

“The pool was locked for five years and now the filtration machine is not working properly. We are trying to fix this issue manually,” said Swimming Federation of India (SFI) secretary Kamlesh Nanavati while informing that the event was allotted to the Jharkhand association six months ago.

Organising secretary S.K. Tiwari also faulted the filtration machine. “The machine is not working. Still, we are trying our best,” said Tiwari. “The colour of the water may not pose any health issue. It may only affect the visibility,” noted Sejwal.