The past, present, and future of Indian swimming have assembled to make the field competitive when the aquatic events of the 36th National Games get underway at the Sardar Patel Aquatic complex here on Sunday.
Nothing can be more contrasting than the presence of 39-year-old Richa Mishra, who is taking part in her sixth National Games, and a bevy of teenage national champions who were not even born when Richa took part in her first National Games in 1997.
Fresh from winning the gold in the 400m medley in the senior nationals, Richa is still hungry and keen to add more medals to her collection.
Richa’s main rival will be the 18-year-old Shrungi Bandekar who was the star of the recent Khelo India University Games.
Shrungi will be looking for revenge, and treat her loss to Richa at the nationals an aberration when the two generations square off again in this National Games.
The young Astha Choudhary of Assam, the National Record holder in 100m butterfly, is another promising swimmer who is set to corner all the attention in the games.
On her home turf, Olympian Maana Patel will be looking to set the pool on fire in the back stroke events. Maana, who won three individual golds in the recent national championships, will spearhead host Gujarat’s challenge and will be hoping to add more gold medals to her kitty in this meet.
Sajan Prakash, Sreehari Nataraj, Advait Page and Kushagra Rawat in the recent past have played their part in increasing the general standards of men’s swimming in India
Sajan will be hoping to relive some of the greatest moments of his career again here in Rajkot. Sajan was the toast of the National Games in Kerala when he won six gold medals in 2015. As a one-man army from Kerala, the 29-year-old will be taking part in as many events as possible to boost the medal tally of his State.
Sreehari’s fifth-place finish in 50m backstrokes in the Commonwealth Games has underlined his growing stature and the Bengaluru swimmer will be keen to live up to the expectations in the National Games.
The Advait-Kushagra face-off will make long-distance swimming in these games interesting. Upcoming swimmer Vedaant Madhavan will be testing water against the best in business. Siva, the triple gold medallist at the recent nationals, is another swimmer to watch out for in the Games.
Traditional powers Karnataka, and Maharashtra will look to extend their domination in the pool while host Gujarat will try its best to bolster its medals tally.