Poncha wins the battle of Olympians

State swimmers clinched five gold medals on the penultimate day to increase their medals tally to 18 gold, 9 silver and 9 bronze medals, leaving Police (5 gold, 4 silver, 2 bronze) and RSPB (4 gold, 7 silver, 4 bronze) to fight it out for the second spot.

Poncha, who had won 200 backstroke and 400 individual medley gold medals, sailed ahead in the butterfly and backstroke segments as the Beijing Olympian seemed poised for a comfortable victory. But Sejwal, a breaststroke specialist, caught up with Poncha just before the 150-metre mark before the Karnataka swimmer took advantage of his rival’s weak freestyle segment to canter home in two minutes 07.95 seconds. Sejwal claimed silver in 2:11.02.

In the morning’s first event, Surabhi cruised home for her first individual crown of the meet, completing the 30-lap (1500M freestyle) in 17 minutes 46.38 seconds. Surabhi, who beat her nearest rival Aakanksha Vora by a good 47 seconds, erased the old mark of 18:00.64 created by Richa Mishra in 2007.

Rohit R Havaldar (100 backstroke, 1:00.48) and the women’s 4x100M freestyle relay team (4:08.63) did enough to fetch the holders two more gold.

The day also saw an exciting race in the men’s relay. The Karnataka 4x100M freestyle relay teams rarely had been troubled over the years but on Saturday the quartet had to face a strong challenge from the championships’ surprise package, the Railways swimmers. The foursome of Saurabh Sangvekar, Rohit R Havaldar, Rehan Poncha and Aaron D’Souza took the title with a new meet record, posting three minutes 34.55 seconds. In the process, the State swimmers lowered their own mark of 3:37.63 set in 2009.

Under perfect morning conditions, Saurabh set an early pace to shoot into lead but RSPB’s Sajan Prakash caught up with the teenager after the 50-metre turn and the duo completed the 100M mark in 54.24 seconds, touching the pad almost simultaneously. Rohit, who swam the second leg finished his quota of 100 metres in 54.38, too had to sweat it out but held a narrow edge over his former team-mate Arjun JP before Rehan, who edged out Praveen Tokas, stretched the lead to a body-length distance with his leg coming in 53.97 seconds. Aaron then anchored his team, coming up with the fastest two laps at 52.08, to beat Sarma S P Nair by some five metres as Karnataka retained the gold that they won in Jaipur.

Results: Men: 50M freestyle: Anshul Kothari (Guj) 24.08, 1; Arjun J P (RSPB) 24.47, 2; Sarma S P Nair (RSPB) 24.72, 3.

100M backstroke: Rohit R Havaldar (Kar) 1:00.48, 1; Praveen Tokas (RSPB) 1:00.98, 2; Madhu PS (SSCB) 1:01.09, 3.

200M individual medley: Rehan Poncha (Kar) 2:07.95, 1; Sandeep Sejwal (RSPB) 2:11.02, 2; Pulkit Kumar (Har) 2:15.66, 3.

4x100M freestyle: Karnataka (Saurabh Sangvekar, Rohit R Havaldar, Rehan Poncha, Aaron D’Souza) 3:34.55, 1. NMR (Old: 3:37.63, Karnataka, 2009); RSPB (Sajan Prakash, Arjun J P, Praveen Tokas, Sarma S P Nair) 3:38.67, 2; Maharashtra (Aniket Shedge, Viraj Dhokale, Yash Pawale, Amar Murlidharan) 3:47.88, 3.
Women: 50M freestyle: Talasha Prabhu (Goa) 27.52, 1; Aditi Dhumatkar (Mah) 27.85, 2; Sneha T (Kar) 28.17, 3.

1500M freestyle: Surabhi Tipre (Kar) 17:46.38, 1. New Meet Record (Old: 18:00.64, Richa Mishra, Police, 2007); Aakanksha Vora (Mah) 18:34.20, 2; Sushaka Pratap (Kar) 18:38.79, 3.
100M backstroke: Arti Ghorpade (Mah) 1:08.75, 1; Ananya Panigrahi (Mah) 1:08.90, 2; Kshipra Mahajan (Kar) 1:11.48, 3.

200M individual medley: Richa Mishra (Pol) 2:25.33, 1; Pooja R Alva (Kar) 2:29.46, 2; Bhoomi R Motwani (Kar) 2:31.52, 3.

4x100M freestyle: Karnataka (Kshipra Mahajan, Pooja R Alva, Sneha T, Surabhi Tipre) 4:08.96, 1; Maharashtra (Arti Ghorpade, Ananya Panigrahi, Rujuta Bhatt, Aditi D) 4:14.15, 2; Tamil Nadu (A Gulnaz Rawoof, AV Jayaveena, Sherlyn Meghana, Anusha Mehta) 4:27.98, 3.

Water polo (semifinals): Men: RSPB bt Maharashtra 13-2; SSCB bt Police 13-6. Women: Police bt West Bengal 7-3; Kerala bt Maharashtra 7-3.

Diving: Men: 1M springboard: T Hariprasad (RSPB) 286.95 points, 1; K Ramanand Sharma (Mah) 263.40, 2; S Rabi Kumar Singh (RSPB) 259.20, 3.

Women: 1M springboard: Hrutika Shriram (RSPB) 212.15 pts, 1. NMR (Old: 202.95, Hrutika S, RSPB, 2008); Swati Vidap (Mah) 176.55, 2; Tanuka Dhara (WB) 150.45, 3.

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