National aquatic championships: Ridhima bests Maana again

Kushagra sets 1,500m National record

Karnataka’s Ridhima Veerendra Kumar provided another glimpse of her growing status as one of the country’s best by sprinting to her second backstroke gold at the 74th senior National aquatic championships at the Basavanagudi Aquatic Centre on Thursday.

The 14-year-old relegated Maana Patel to second spot for the second successive race (after 100m backstroke on day one) by clocking 29.94s over 50m, and missed rewriting Maana’s National record by an agonising five-hundredth of a second.

The day’s lone National record was set by Kushagra Rawat, who added the 1,500m gold to the 400m and 800m titles he had won earlier, also in record times. The Delhi swimmer’s timing of 15:38.13 was over three seconds faster than his own previous best mark set in 2019.

Dominant Prachi

Fellow Delhi swimmer Prachi Tokas proved equally dominant in long-distance swimming, securing the 800m freestyle title to add to her 1,500m gold from Wednesday. Prachi and second-placed Aanya Wala were neck-and-neck until the last 200m, before the former surged ahead to touch the pad in in 9:20.16.

Elsewhere, Sajan Prakash won his second individual gold, coasting to victory in 200m butterfly. The Tokyo Olympian’s timing of 1:58.74 was nearly six seconds faster than second-placed Aryan Panchal.

Srihari Nataraj added yet another gold to his kitty, in 50m backstroke, winning in 25.77.

“I was expecting to go faster, but this is more or less where I am in backstroke at the moment,” said the 20-year-old, who holds the 50m record (25.58). “I had been training backstroke since last November. So just to change it up I’ve been training freestyle a lot more. The speed will come back once I start training backstroke again,” Srihari added.

Sambhavv excels

In the last event of the day, home swimmer R. Sambhavv clinched his first-ever senior Nationals individual medal with a gold-winning performance in 50m freestyle. The 17-year-old, one of the standout swimmers at the junior Nationals last week where he swept the Group I 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle titles, came home in 23.65.

“I was a bit nervous, but I was expecting the gold,” Sambhavv said later. “I expected the biggest challenge from Srihari but he didn’t swim. I trained a lot of short course and that helped me with my turns and underwater.”

The results: Men: 50m freestyle: R. Sambhavv (Kar), 23.65; 1,500m freestyle: Kushagra Rawat (Del), 15:38.13 (NMR; OR: 15:41.45, Kushagra, 2019); 50m backstroke: Srihari Nataraj (Kar), 25.77; 200m butterfly: Sajan Prakash (Police), 1:58.74; 4x100m medley: RSPB (K. Abbasuddin, M. Lohit, Sanu Debnath, Pavan M.S. Gupta), 3:53.29.

Women: 50m freestyle: Avantika Chawan (RSPB), 27.18; 800m freestyle: Prachi Tokas (Del), 9:20.16; 50m backstroke: Ridhima Veerendra Kumar (Kar), 29.94; 200m butterfly: Astha Choudhury (Asm), 2:20.47; 4x100m medley: Maharashtra (Jyotsna Pansare, Apeksha Fernandes, Jyoti Patil, Palak Joshi), 4:31.50.

Water polo: Men, final round: RSPB 26 bt Kerala 6; SSCB 15 bt Kerala 0; Women, semifinals: Kerala 15 bt Maharashtra 7; Police 18 bt Karnataka 8.

Diving: Platform, men: Siddharth Pardeshi (SSCB), 363.70; Women: Ipsita Mahajan (Police), 173.00.

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