Nina is setting the pool ablaze

Nina is setting the pool ablaze

focus on sports talent

Nina Venkatesh is keen to realise her Olympic dreams one day.

It brings me peace of mind, the water,” says Nina Venkatesh. 

After a decade in the pool and half a dozen years of swimming competitively, one can understand the 14-year-old’s love for the water. It stands to reason that had she not felt so, she probably wouldn’t be one among the sport’s rising stars.

Starting at the age of four, success has come quickly for the youngster. 

“My sister started swimming when I was 4-5 years old and my mom decided I should also join,” she says about her beginning. “I started loving it and I was winning medals right from group IV. My first junior nationals was 2014, my first senior nationals in 2017, I was 11.” 

While back then she had just one event and failed to get past the preliminaries, this year she announced her arrival. She has two gold, three silver and one bronze in the junior nationals but her follow up performance at the senior level - which yielded a silver and a bronze in 50m and 100 butterfly respectively against India’s top swimmers - showed promise. And with the national record in Group II 50m butterfly (29.48) already under her name, she has set sights on bigger things. That too, in the short term. She improved her personal best at the Asian Age Group meet earlier this year, clocking 28.85. 

“The best Indian time in 50 butterfly is held by Divya Satija in 50m butterfly (28.22). So I want to get that soon,” she says confidently. And it would seem she has all the ingredients needed for success. A fiery motivation, a good support system in her parents Prabhu Venkatesh and Ashwini Shivakumar and one of the best coaches in Dronacharya Awardee Nihar Ameen at the Dolphin Academy. Importantly, she has also managed to find a balance.

“I study at Vidyashilp but I don’t go everyday. I have to manage my time. My school is very accommodative because I travel so much and when I come back, my teachers help me with extra classes,” she admits. 

“Nihar sir, I’ve been with him since the beginning. Many champions swim with me everyday, like Virdhawal (Khade). They give good advice. It’s motivating.”

While she is more of a sprinter at the moment, the Olympic dream means work has to be put in to improve the stamina. 

“I like 100m back and 50m butterfly but I’m working on the 200m back and 100m butterfly. You need to pace yourself a bit differently so I’m working towards the longer ones because they will last with me long term,” she signs off.

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