National Swimming Championship: Contrasting day for Srihari and Sajan

S.P. Likith completes breastroke sweep, while 16-year-old Kenisha Gupta breaks record.

Kenisha Gupta (in picture) from Maharashtra won the women's 100m freestyle race and broke the women's 100m freestyle meet record.   -  A.M. Faruqui

 Despite returning from the Junior Worlds in Hungary just a week ago, Srihari Nataraj walked away with four individual golds, three meet records and the best male swimmer award at the 73 Glenmark National senior aquatic championships at the Prakash Tarun Pushkar pool here on Wednesday evening.

The 18-year-old from Bengaluru had eight golds in all, including four in the relay, and topped the final day with a meet record in the 100m backstroke, an event where he looks to qualify for next year's Tokyo Olympics.

EXHAUSTED

But another big star, Olympian Sajan Prakash, was a very disappointed man though he won three individual events in the five-day meet, including two in the butterfly.

100

Sajan Prakash won the men's 200m butterfly race.   -  A.M. Faruqui

“I'm really upset and disappointed with my performance here, I feel burned out, I feel exhausted,” said Sajan, a very talented swimmer who has probably been competing in too many events in the last few weeks.

“Today's event, the 200m fly, was crucial because I'm trying to qualify for the Olympics ('A' standard) in this. Unfortunately, I did three seconds off my best time, it is totally a negative sign. So, I need to rest and start training again because last month, I did not train at all.”

Read: Is NADA giving up its battle to clean up sport?

Meanwhile, Mumbai's very promising 16-year-old Kenisha Gupta broke the women's 100m freestyle meet record of Harayana's Shivani Kataria while Karnataka's S.P. Likith completed his set of three breaststroke golds while winning the 100m on the final day.

NEW COACH WORKS WONDERS

“Last year, I did not get any gold so it's a huge improvement for me this time. And timing-wise I've improved by one full second in the 100 breast and in the other events too,” said Likith who had trained in Austria under a JSW scheme earlier.

“I have a new coach now in Partha Varanashi, he was in Australia for six years and is very passionate about swimming, he brought about a big change in me. He was willing to provide whatever I needed, he is more of a friend than a coach.”

Karnataka, as expected won the overall championship and men's team title while Maharashtra took the women's team trophy. Haryana's Shivani Kataria was adjudged as the best woman swimmer.

NADA TURNS UP AT NATIONALS ON LAST DAY

After staying away for the first four days, the National Anti-Doping Agency finally turned up to test swimmers at the National aquatic championships' last day here on Wednesday.

“We were told about this only on Tuesday evening and we were asked to come here today and test five swimmers,” said a dope control officer with the NADA team here. “We could only get three of them.”

Srihari Nataraj, Sajan Prakash – two of the biggest names at the five-day Nationals here – along with Delhi's distance swimmer Kushagra Rawat were tested, according to a top official of the Swimming Federation of India.