Powerhouse Karnataka retain title

Aaron adjudged the best swimmer among men, Richa bags honours in womens section

Karnataka emerged overall champions at the Senior National aquatics.

Karnataka swimmers garnered 327 points, a massive 151 points ahead of Maharashtra (176). In the medals table, the State bagged 23 gold, 11 silver and 9 bronze medals while RSPB (5 gold, 7 silver, 6 bronze) and Police (5 gold, 5 silver and 3 bronze) finished second and third respectively. Though Maharashtra came second (with the points being awarded till swimmers up to sixth position in each event) in the points table, in the medals table they could finish only fifth (2 gold, 12 silver, 11 bronze) behind Tamil Nadu (3 gold, 2 silver, 4 bronze).

Aaron stacked up five individual titles — 50M backstroke, 100 freestyle and 200M freestyle (both with NMR), 100M and 200M butterfly — to be adjudged the best male swimmer of the championship while promising youngster Saurabh Sangvekar bagged three gold medals and a silver. Saurabh broke the National records in the 800 and 1500 freestyle and his third gold came in the 400 freestyle with a new meet mark. Richa, who also won five crowns, took home the best female swimmer award.

On the final day, Aaron first won the 200M butterfly, clocking two minutes 02.22 and then the 19-year-old Basavanagudi Aquatic Centre swimmer pocketed the 100M freestyle, posting 51.15 seconds with a new meet record. Aaron erased his won mark of 51.43 created in 2009.

Well before that, young Saurabh produced a breath-taking swimming to sink the National record in the most demanding 1500M freestyle. Saurabh completed the 30-lap race in 15 minutes 51.10 seconds, slicing a good five seconds from the previous mark of 15:56.96 set by Mandar A Divase in the 2009 Asian championships. Saurabh’s State-mate Gagan AP took silver in 16:19.22 while Mandar claimed the bronze in 16:20.70.

Saurabh clocked below 16-minute for the second time in his career with the previous one coming in 15:59.45 last month in the Asian Age Group championship at Jakarta. This means the 17-year-old Saurabh needs to shave off just seven seconds in the coming meets to attain the London Olympics invitational time of 15:43.74.

“Until 900-metre I was with in the Olympics qualifying time but after that I slowed down a little bit. I am confident that I can swim much faster than I did here,” said Saurabh, who showed a drastic improvement, starting from the Bhopal Junior Nationals in August, where he clocked 16:08.80.

On Sunday Saurabh had to do it all by himself as neither Gagan, who skipped first four days of the meet here due to his degree exams, nor Mandar were able to put up a fight. From lane five, Saurabh eased his way into the lead as Gagan, in lane four, closely followed his team-mate until the 200-metre mark. 

Saurabh from then on gradually picked up the pace, increasing the margin to five metres or so at the 400M (4:08.00) turn before stretching it to almost 15 metres at the 800M (9:27.00). And after that, Saurabh sped away to a comfortable victory by almost one-lap margin as Gagan struggled to keep pace with a much younger rival.

Results: Men: 100M freestyle: Aaron D’Souza (Kar) 51.15 seconds, 1. NMR (Old: 51.43, Aaron, Karnataka, 2009); Anshul Kothari (Guj) 53.06, 2; Amar Murlidharan (Mah) 53.77, 3.
1500M freestyle: Saurabh Sangvekar (Kar) 15:51.10, 1. National Record (Old: 15:56.96, Mandar A Divase, Asian championships, 2009; New Meet Record; Old: 16:06.64, Mandar, Police, 2009); Gagan A P (Kar) 16:19.22, 2; Mandar A Divase (Pol) 16:20.70, 3.

100M breaststroke: Sandeep Sejwal (RSPB) 1:01.97, 1. NMR (Old: 1:04.26, Sejwal, Delhi, 2009); Puneet Rana (Pol) 1:05.50, 2; Anoop Augustine (RSPB) 1:08.64, 3.
200M butterfly: Aaron D’Souza (Kar) 2:02.22, 1; Rehan Poncha (Kar) 2:04.38, 2; Sajan Prakash (RSPB) 2:08.55, 3.

Women: 100M freestyle: Surabhi Tipre (Kar) 1:00.28 seconds, 1; Talasha Prabhu (Goa) 1:00.67, 2; Aditi Dhumatkar (Mah) 1:00.72, 3.

100M breaststroke: M Raghavi (TN) 1:18.55, 1. NMR (Old: 1:18.66, Tejaswini V, Karnataka, 2006); Poorva Shetye (Mah) 1:19.01, 2; Krunal Bhosale (Mah) 1:19.84, 3.
200M butterfly: Pooja R Alva (Kar) 2:22.28, 1; Aditi Dhumatkar (Mah) 2:25.04, 2; Rujuta Bhatt (Mah) 2:29.90, 3.

Water polo: Men (final): SSCB bt RSPB 8-7. Third place playoff: Police bt Maharashtra 9-4.
Women (final): Kerala bt Police 7-1. Third place playoff: Maharashtra bt West Bengal 6-1.
Special awards: Swimming: Overall champions: Karnataka (327 points).

Team championships: Men: Karnataka (164 pts). Women: Karnataka (163 pts).
Best swimmer awards: Men: Aaron D’Souza (Karnataka, 35 pts). Women: Richa Mishra (Police, 35 pts).

Team championships: Diving: Men: RSPB (30 pts). Women: RSPB (26 pts).

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