Need to better my turns, kicks off the wall: Srihari

The 18-year-old is hopeful of achieving the Olympic Qualifying Time in the 100m and 200m backstroke races.

Srihari Nataraj is hopeful of achieving the Olympic Qualifying Time (‘A’ standard) in the 100m and 200m backstroke races for next year’s Tokyo Games.   -  AFP

Srihari Nataraj is hopeful of achieving the Olympic Qualifying Time (‘A’ standard) in the 100m and 200m backstroke races for next year’s Tokyo Games.

Srihari’s personal best in the shorter event is 55.49, which while being a whisker away from the ‘B’ time (55.47) is some distance away from the ‘A’ cut (53.85). In the 200m, the Bengaluru swimmer’s best of 2:02.08 — a national record clocked at the World Championships in South Korea last week — needs bettering if he is to match the ‘A’ (1:57.5) or even the ‘B’ (2:01.03) standard.

But the 18-year-old believes he can achieve the ‘A’ times — which would guarantee Olympic qualification — with improvements in specific areas. “It’s possible; I just need to make sure that my turns and kicks off the wall are good,” he said here on Friday.

“What happens is that I run out of oxygen when I am on my back while doing the flip under water. So I am working on my lung capacity. I am working to get a better push off the wall, get a better glide, so that I can improve my timing.”

Srihari felt he needed to go out faster in both races. “In the 100, I need to go faster in the first 50. If I can flip for 26.2 in the first 50, I can come back for 27.5. That is 53.7, inside the ‘A’ cut. I’m now doing 28.1 on the back leg, so bringing that down to 27.5 is going to be harder than opening with 26.2.

“Even in the 200m, I need to go faster in the first 100. Right now, I feel I’m very conservative in the first 100 because I’m worried about tiring out in the second half,” he said.

Big advantage

Srihari is leaving for the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships in Budapest later this month, before returning for the Senior Nationals in Bhopal. But the 10th Asian Age Group Championships, to be held in Bengaluru from September 24 to October 2, would give him his best chance of ensuring Olympic qualification, he felt.

“I’m accustomed to the weather in the city. I will get to stay at home and that’s a big advantage. When you go abroad, you need to acclimatize, and get used to things like the food. When you’re at home, your body will be able to perform better.”