Indian swimmers eye improved show

With the FINA World Championship in Gwangju, South Korea already underway (diving events) and the swimming set to start from Sunday, the Indian contingent is keen to bring their best to the world stage.

The swimmers are now eyeing the 'A' qualification time for the Tokyo Olympics as opposed to the 'B' cut which was the norm.

Leading the challenge is Indian swimming's in-form lad -- Srihari Nataraj. The lanky teenager, who holds the best time for an Indian in 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke events along with no fewer than a handful of national records across various age groups, is quietly confident of a decent outing.

"I want to do well in all three events. I trained for all three so I feel I can do well in all," he told DH. "My main goal is to get the 'A' qualification. But I'm not really taking any pressure. I'm just going there to do my best."

His personal best in 100m and 200m backstroke are 55.86 and 2:02.37 respectively - 0.39 and 1.34 seconds off the 'B' cut. However, Srihari is confident of improving.

"I feel I'm improving and I know that I've not peaked yet. So just taking everything calmly. I train the same way as I've always trained, just more intense and dedicated. I feel confident, fit and strong," said the BSRC trainee adding that he is working on his start and turn to compliment his swim, which is his strongest point.

Meanwhile, Advait Page, who will swim the 800m freestyle event, is excited about his first Worlds.

The distance swimmer, the fastest Indian in 800m and 1500m freestyle, had a fantastic outing in the Singapore Nationals last month where his time of 8:00.76 was under the 'B' cut and nine seconds quicker than his performance at the 2018 Asian Games (8:09.13).

"It's just training that I've been doing for the past one year," remarked Page. "Get some confidence racing against the big boys, some exposure and experience. I'm just looking towards cutting down more time so that I can be closer to the 'A' qualification (7:54.31). That is something no Indian swimmer has ever done, now we are getting closer to that level. Many are making the B cut now so the aim is to get closer to the A cut. Hopefully, I can achieve it," he said adding that it's the finer details in training and diet that's helping him, a trend he hopes continues.

Meanwhile, Olympian Sajan Prakash has also got his eyes on getting into yet another Games.

Sajan, who was training in Dubai, remarked that while he has qualified for four events (100m, 200m butterfly, 200m, 400m, freestyle), his focus will be on the 200m butterfly.

"It's not always that I swim 200m butterfly fresh because in nationals or other events we swim many events before it. So we are tired. This time also, I swim the 200m freestyle before 200 fly, but I'm trying to make a faster time in 200 fly to get to the A cut."

The Indian contingent, which also includes Karnataka's Likith SP, are set to leave for the meet early on Wednesday.

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