Bengaluru, Oct 18 (IANS): A total of more than 1,500 participants from across 32 states and Union Territories will arrive in Bengaluru for the prestigious 37th Sub-junior and 47th Junior National Aquatic Championships which would begin on October 19.
The five-day National Championships, which is the first major swimming event after the Covid-19 pandemic, will see participants compete for top honours at the newly-renovated Basavangudi Aquatic Centre, while diving will be held at the Kensington Swimming Pool. Ulsoor and water polo will be held at the Netkalappa Aquatic Centre.
The championships will serve as a selection trial for the Swimming Federation of India (SFI) to name a 10-member team which will train and compete with the South African National Swimming Team in January 2022. The SFI will identify swimmers for a long-term national programme aimed at preparing them for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The championships will be followed by the much-awaited 74th Senior National Aquatic Championships which will witness India's elite swimmers compete for top honours from October 26.
In the Junior category, Karnataka's Ridhima Virendrakumar, Nina Venkatesh, Sanvi Rao, Shoan Ganguly, Utkarsh S. Patil, Vidith Shankar and Sambhav. R are expected to bring home top honours.
Maharashtra's Vedaant Madhavan, Ananya Joshi, Aryan Varnekar, Apeksha Fernandes, Kiara Bangera, Uthkarsh Gor, Palak Damini, Tamil Nadu's Vishesh Parmeshwar and Delhi's Bhavya Sachdeva too are expected to outperform others in their respective events.
In the senior category, two-time Olympian Sajan Prakash representing Kerala Police will lock horns with Karnataka's Srihari Nataraj for the individual champion's title. Earlier this year, both became the first Indian swimmers to achieve the Olympic Standard Time to participate in the Tokyo Olympics.
Gujarat's Maana Patel, who participated in the Tokyo Olympics, is expected to win her pet events -- 50m and 100m backstroke.
Top swimmers in the fray include Karnataka's Tanish George Mathew and Shiva S, Assam's Shivangi Sharma, Goa's Shrungi Bhandekar, Maharashtra's Rujuta Bhat and Chahat Arora, Services' Madhu PS, Likith SP, Vaishnav Hegde, Anand AS and Delhi's Kushagra Rawat.
Veteran swimmer Richa Mishra of Delhi Police, Olympian Shivani Kataria of Haryana, and Advait Page of Madhya Pradesh are expected to shine in the 74th Senior Aquatic Championships.
Speaking to the media here, SFI Secretary General Monal Chokshi expressed happiness over the resumption of the national calendar following the pandemic.
"We are thrilled that the National Championships are finally taking place after the pandemic disrupted swimming activities across India. We had to ensure all states have resumed swimming for competitive swimmers before we announced the dates for the Nationals and I am happy to state that all the member units were unanimous in their support to the prestigious championships," he said.
"I have to make a special mention about the Karnataka Swimming Association led by Gopal Hosur who came forward to take up the onus of hosting the Sub-junior, Junior, Senior National Championships in Bengaluru. We also thank the Karnataka government for extending its support," Chokshi added.
Hosur, a retired IPS officer, said, "When SFI expressed that they are looking for a host to conduct the National Championships, we immediately expressed interest as we are eager for the sport to resume following nearly a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic."
Every swimmer, coach, technical official participating in the Nationals must submit a negative RT-PCR report.