Richa Mishra defies age to set the pool ablaze

At an age when most would have quit competitive swimming, 36-year-old Richa Mishra came up with the best Indian performance in the women’s 400m Individual Medley on the second day of the Glenmark 72nd National swimming championship on Thursday.

Richa Mishra at the B. R. Ambedkar Aquatic complex in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday.   -  S Mahinsha

At an age when most would have quit competitive swimming, 36-year-old Richa Mishra came up with the best Indian performance in the women’s 400m Individual Medley on the second day of the Glenmark 72nd National swimming championship here on Thursday.

Pitted against rivals, some of whom were not even born when she began swimming, Richa took the lead midway through the first lap in the butterfly leg. She increased the lead in the back stroke and raced against time to set the new mark. Richa clocked 4:59.17 and became the first Indian women to breach the five-minute mark. Richa had previously held the best Indian time of 5:01.08 set in 2007 and also the meet record (5:02.96) which was set in 2009.

However, Richa was not the only swimmer to come up best Indian performance on the day as Karnataka’s Saloni Dalal and Sreehari Nataraj came up with sizzling performances in 200m breast stroke and 50m back stroke events respectively. In all, five meet records were set on the second day. Srihari Nataraj was unstoppable in his favourite event the 50m back stroke.

The youngster warmed up by setting the meet record in the heats in the morning. In the final, he was pushed to the limit by former champion P.S.Madhu who matched Srihari stroke for stroke. But the Karnataka lad pulled ahead in the last moment to set a new meet record in26.18 and broke his own best Indian performance of 26.19 set during the Asian Games. Saloni Dalal set a new record and came up with best Indian performance in 200m breast stroke. Saloni after facing challenge from Kareena Shankta pulled clear ahead of her rival in the homestretch. Saloni clocked 2:41.88 to break her two-year old mark of 2.44.37.

Saloni's time of best Indian performance (2:43.01) was set in 2017. Advait Page of MP warded off a stiff challenge from the Aaryan Makhija at the finish to set a new mark in 1500m freestyle. Adavit led by nearly a body length when two laps remained in the gruelling event but Aaryan went all out in the last lap to challenge Advait who managed to cling on to his lead to win in 15:42.67s.

Advait broke Sajan's Prakash's four-year-old mark (15:45.83) set in 2014. Aaryan also came under the existing mark.

The results

Men: 50m freestyle: 1. Virdhawal Khade (SFI) 22.80, 2. Aaron D’Souza (Rlys) 23.52, 3. Anshul Kothari (Guj) 23.05; 1500m freestyle: 1. Advait Page (MP) 15:42.67 (NR, Old: 15:45.83, Sajan Prakash, Railways, 2014), 2. Aaryan Makhija (SFI) 15:43.06, 3. Kushaagra Rawat (Del) 15:57.87.

200m breaststroke: 1. Sandeep Sejwal (Del) 2:15.76, 2. S. Danush (TN) 2:19.32, 3. S. Arun (Ser) 2:20.37; 50m backstroke: 1. Srihari Nataraj (Kar) 26.18 (NR, Old: 26.56, self, 2018), 2. P.S. Madhu (Ser) 26.69, 3. Vedanth Seth (Har) 27.32; 4x100m medley relay: 1. Karnataka 3:51.04, 2. Services 3:51.75, 3. Delhi 3:51.85.

Women: 400m IM: 1. Richa Mishra (Police) 4:59.17 (NR, Old: 5:02.96, self, 2009), 2. Sayani Ghosh (Ben) 5:20.59, 3. B. Shakti (TN) 5:21.64; 200m breaststroke: 1. Saloni Dalal (Kar) 2:41.88 (NR, Old: 2:44.37, self, 2016), 2. Kareena Shankta (SFI), 3. Harshitha Jayaram (Rlys) 2:46.36; 50m breaststroke: 1. Maana Patel (Guj) 30.11, 2. Suvana C. Baskar (Kar) 30.87, 3. Nivaya Raj (TN) 31.50; 4x100m medley relay: 1. SFI 4:29.81 (New, Old: 4:31.70, Karnataka, 2017), 2. Karnataka 4:33.92, 3. 4:34.47.