Srihari Nataraj to make comeback in 200m backstroke at National Swimming Championships

Srihari Nataraj will compete in five events at the national championships.
Srihari Nataraj will compete in five events at the national championships.

Indian swimmer Srihari Nataraj had to keep his off-season training plans aside after the Swimming Federation of India (SFI) announced the national championships scheduled from October 26 to 29 in Bengaluru.

For the 20-year-old, though, it will be a good chance to make his comeback in his favorite 200m backstroke event. In an exclusive conversation with Sportskeeda, he said:

“At the national championships my key events will be 100 and 200 free and 200 back. I am making a comeback in the 200m backstroke after two years. So, the focus will be on checking where I stand.”

Srihari Nataraj will be competing in five events at the Nationals next week. They are 50, 100 and 200 back, and 100 and 200 free. The 6'3" Bengaluru swimmer will also compete in five relay events (three men and two mixed).

For him, skipping the Nationals was always an option but Srihari Nataraj just could not stay away from a competition knocking on his door.

Also Read: Maana Patel leaving no stone unturned to qualify for Asian Games

He feels more than a challenge from his competitors, it is a battle from himself that he needs to win. The focus at the Basavangudi Aquatic Center will be to put his skills to the test and also get a rough idea of areas he needs to focus on for the Commonwealth and Asian Games.

“I don’t have any specific goal for the national championships. After all it was supposed to be an off-season. I had started training right after my event at the Tokyo Olympics. So, returning to the pool was not tough. At the competition, goal is to keep my national golds and help Karnataka's team bag the team title,” he said.

Srihari Nataraj’s roadmap to next year’s marquee events

With the national championships, Srihari Nataraj will conclude his 2021 season and start planning for the next year’s marquee events. He and his coach Nihar Ameen have things in mind they will be working on post-nationals.

One thing is to keep the load up while in the pool. Srihari Nataraj recalled how exhausted he was after his 100m backstroke event at the Tokyo Games. He was content with his performance on his Olympic debut but knows he could have done better.

Srihari Nataraj clocked 54.31s in Tokyo, which was 0.54s short of his personal best at the Sette Colli Trophy in Rome this year.

“When I got out of the pool and started walking back to the dressing room, I collapsed on the floor. I was completely exhausted. But it was a good show for me. I was the first one to jump into the pool. Yes, I could not better my PB (53.77s) but I know what needs to be done to better that,” he said.

Edited by Anantaajith Ra

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