Dubai-based Indian swimmers win gold and bronze medals at Latvian Open
The Latvian event was the first international competition for Prakash, Vedaant and Tanish since the Covid-19 outbreak
Overcoming the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, three swimmers from Dubai’s Aqua Nation Sports Academy (ANSA) earned podium places at the Latvian Open Swimming Championship last month.
Sajan Prakash, a seasoned Indian swimmer who has been training at ANSA in Dubai since last August, clinched a gold medal (200m butterfly) and a bronze (100m butterfly) at the Latvian Open.
The 27-year-old swimmer who has already represented India at the 2014 and 2018 Asian Games and the 2016 Rio Olympics, also achieved the Olympic B qualification for the Tokyo Games.
While Prakash kept his Tokyo hopes alive with his gold medal, Tanish George Mathew and Vedaant Madhavan also claimed a bronze each in Latvia, with the former winning his medal in the 200m freestyle and the latter earning a podium finish in the 1500m freestyle.
Vedaant, the 15-year-old Mumbai-born swimmer, was delighted with his improved time and Tanish, 17, has kept his chances of qualifying for this year’s Tokyo Games alive.
The Latvian event was the first international competition for Prakash, Vedaant and Tanish since the Covid-19 outbreak.
“I was excited to race after a long time. We are trying to do our best in every opportunity that we get,” Prakash told Khaleej Times.
Prakash, who became the first Indian swimmer to qualify for the 200m butterfly final in 32 years at the Asian Games when he finished fifth in 2018 at Jakarta, now needs to break his own national record (India) to qualify for his second Olympic Games.
“I am going to another Fina-approved international event in Uzbekistan next month. My national record (India) in 200m butterfly is 1:57.73. I have achieved the Olympic B qualification for this event in Latvia with a time of 1:59.31. The Olympic A qualification for Tokyo is 1:56.48. So yes, I have to break my national record (1:57.73),” Prakash said.
Meanwhile, Tanish (personal best 1:53.30), who needs to drop three seconds in 200m freestyle to qualify for Tokyo Games (qualification time 1:50.00) by the end of June, was happy with his performance in Latvia.
“The competition was tough. And I got two personal best times, so I am happy with that. I took part in four events and I got two new personal best times. And in the other two events, I was close to my best time,” Tanish said.
“It was pretty fun after Covid. Swimming against those swimmers was very tough. I got to learn from them. So it was a great experience for me as I am still trying to qualify for Tokyo.”
And Vedant was surprised by his improved time in Latvia -- his first event after the Covid-19-enenforced break.
“It was a really good event for me. I was surprised by my times because I dropped a lot of seconds in most of my events,” he said.
“And in swimming, it’s really hard to drop even a few seconds. But I dropped my times a lot.”
Vedant, whose most inspiring moment in swimming came when he met Michael Phelps in India, is making impressive progress.
“I am constantly improving. In the 1500m freestyle, I dropped 25 seconds from my personal best, which was a year ago,” said Vedaant, a 4x100 freestyle relay silver medallist at the 2019 Asian Age Championships.
“My personal best then (before the Covid-19 outbreak) was 17 minutes and now I gave a 16.28. The 1500 is my best event. But I also did outstanding in the 400m freestyle where I dropped nine seconds.”
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