Sajan steals show on opening day

Saloni Dalal

The Dr Ambedkar Aquatic Centre’s reputation of being a venue where records are set remained intact as long-standing marks were shattered on the opening day of the 72nd Glenmark Senior National Aquatic Championships on Wednesday.

While Tamil Nadu’s AV Jayaveena became the first Indian woman to breach the 34-second barrier in the 50M breaststroke heats, local favourite Sajan Prakash erased Rehan Pooncha’s 200M medley mark of 2:05.89 from 2009.

Jayaveena broke Delhi swimmer Priyanka’s 34.29 which was set at the Nationals in 2012.

Eyeing their third consecutive title, Karnataka ended the day with two silvers (Srihari Nataraj and Khushi Dinesh) a bronze (women’s 4X100 relay) and the lone effervescent performance from Saloni Dalal in the women’s 50M breaststroke.

What made Saloni’s performance all the more impressive was that she nipped Jayaveena in the final. In a tough fight to the line, Saloni remained poised and kept her momentum to come home in 34.56, Jayaveena finishing second, agonisingly, in a time of 34.59.

Having to contend with rising star Srihari in the men’s 200M freestyle event, Sajan made a calculated start and there was nothing to choose between the two till the last 25 metres where the Kerala lad pulled ahead towards the top step of the podium, clocking 1:50.35 (a new meet record).

Khushi (2:10.59) claiming silver in the women’s 200M freestyle event behind Haryana’s Shivani Kataria (2:05.89), who passed her previous mark of 2:06.63 set at the 2017 Nationals in Bhopal.

The stage was then once again set for Sajan who got off to a fabulous start in the 200M medley. Karnataka’s Siva Sridhar swam out of his skin to keep pace but, buoyed by the home support, it was Sajan who kept increasing his pace and with it his lead and Sridhar fizzled to finish sixth.

Sanu Debnath (2:09.06) and Supriya Mondal (2:09.79) both representing RSPB finished second and third respectively.

The 25-year-old eventually bagged his second gold of the evening with a smashing 2:05.83, sneaking past Pooncha’s record by 0.06 of a second. Another experienced campaigner Sandeep Sejwal of Delhi, who set a new meet record in the heats with 27.89, claimed the men’s event in 28.39.

Relay team disqualified 

Karnataka lost a good opportunity to add to their tally after the men’s 4X100M relay team was disqualified. Sources revealed that the decision was made after Srihari made a false start in the heats.

Results: Men: 200M freestyle: Sajan Prakash (Ker) 1:50.35, 1 (NMR) (Previous: Aaron D’Souza 1:151.38, 2011); Srihari Nataraj (Kar) 1:51.49, 2; Aaryan Makhija (SFI) 1:52.47, 3. 200 Medley: Sajan Prakash (Ker) 2:05.83, 1 (NMR, India best) (Previous: Rehan Pooncha 2:05.89, 2009); Sanu Debnath (RSPB) 2:09.06, 2; Supriya Mondal (RSPB) 2:09.79, 3. 50M breaststroke: Sandeep Sejwal (Delhi) 28.39, 1; Likith SP (Kar) 28.74, 2; Puneet Rana (Police) 29.14, 3. 4X100M relay: RSPB 3:30.37, 1; SSCB 3:32.70, 2; SFI 3:34.11, 3.

Women’s: 200M freestyle: Shivani Kataria (Har) 2:05.86, 1 (NMR) (Previous; Shivani Kataria 2:06.63 in 2017); Khushi Dinesh (Kar) 2:10.59, 2; Prachi Tokas (Del) 2:10.79, 3. 200M Medley: Richa Mishra (Police) 2:24.23, 1, Kenisha Gupta (SFI) 2:27.60, 2; Sayani Ghosh (Ben) 2:28.24, 3.
50M breaststroke: Saloni Dalal (Kar) 34.56, 1; AV Jayaveena (TN) 34.59, 2; Annie Jain (MP) 35.11, 3. 4X100M relay: SFI 4:04.16, 1; RSPB 4:07.61, 2; Karnataka 4:07.96, 3.

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Sajan steals show on opening day

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