Swimmers in pool of possibilities

Swimmers in pool of possibilities

But the swimmers’ preparation for the Games has been anything but encouraging. Their performance in the last month’s Senior Nationals in Jaipur was shoddy, to say the least, with many top swimmers including Rehan Poncha, Virdhawal Khade and Aaron D’Souza coming up with efforts well below par.

In fact, only three swimmers -- Gagan AP, Rohit Havaldar and Sandeep Sejwal -- touched the qualification mark, making the selection of the 26-member national team (including divers and synchronised swimmers) a tough job for the Swimming Federation of India (SFI).

Even gloomier news was in store as Tamil Nadu swimmer MB Balakrishnan was attacked by unknown assailants in Chennai, jeopardising his chances of taking part in the Commonwealth Games. Then came another disheartening blow when multiple national champion Richa Mishra and Jyotsna Pansare tested positive for methylhexaneamine on September 5, forcing the Federation to throw them out of the CWG-bound squad.
The dismal build-up notwithstanding, national swimming coach S Pradeep Kumar sounded confident of a better show at the Games. “There were some early hiccups. But we have been training very hard at the Dr SP Mukherjee swimming stadium which is also the venue for the Games. We have not won a medal in CWG so far, hopefully we can open a new chapter this time,” Pradeep told Deccan Herald.

Pradeep said he was not unduly worried about the off-colour outings of many of the top swimmers in Jaipur, adding that his wards had the ability to raise the bar at the CWG.
“I will not say that Jaipur had ideal conditions for swimming. It was raining quite heavily most of the time and the pool was also not in good condition as heavy rains made it muddy. So the swimmers struggled to put their best foot forward,” Pradeep explained.
“But I am sure they have the ability to better their effort in CWG. We have not even reached the final of a CWG competition, so our first aim is to reach the final round. If the swimmers can repeat last year’s timings, then they will certainly enter the medal round. I am confident we have strong medal chances this time,” he added.One of India’s top swimmers Aaron, who will most likely be competing in the 200 and 400 freestyle events, too had a similar take.

“Our preparation has been going in the right direction and we have been training in the competition venue for many days now. That will be an advantage for us during the competition, but we need to come up with a really strong show,” the Bangalore lad said.
Aiming to make a splash in Delhi will be traditional swimming powerhouses Australia. England, South Africa and Singapore are the other main teams in the event.

Virendra Nanavati, secretary general of SFI, exuded the confidence that the swimmers would break their CWG duck this time. “All the top swimmers have undergone training abroad and now have been training very hard in Delhi for a while now. I have full faith in their ability to bring medals for the country this time,” Nanavati said.So, will there be an Indian swimmer standing on the podium this time?

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