Led by Olympian Srihari Nataraj, India rewrote six national records in swimming at the Asian Games 2023 in Hangzhou, People’s Republic of China.
Swimming events at the Asian Games were held at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Aquatic Sports Arena from September 24 to September 29 with a total of 41 gold medals on offer.
Though Indian swimmers did not win any medals at the Asian Games 2023, they reset five national swimming records in relay competitions and one in an individual event.
The 22-year-old Srihari Nataraj, who holds three backstroke national records, reset the Indian national swimming record in the men’s 200m freestyle, clocking 1:49.05. He qualified for the final as a reserve but did not progress further.
Srihari Nataraj also qualified for the finals in the men’s 50m and 100m backstroke but finished sixth in both events.
Three national records were set by the men’s relay teams while two were achieved by the Indian women’s teams.
Srihari Nataraj, Tanish George Mathew, Vishal Grewal and Anand Shylaja clocked 3:21.22 for a new record in 4x100m freestyle.
The 4x200m freestyle of Aryan Nehra, Aneesh Gowda, Kushagra Rawat and Tanish George Mathew and the 4x100m medley team of Srihari Nataraj, SP Likith, Sajan Prakash, Tanish George Matthew set new records in 7:29.04 and 3:40.20, respectively.
The Indian contingent consisted of 20 swimmers - 12 men and eight women. The Indian women featured at the Asian Games for the first time since Doha 2006.
The national record in women’s 4x100m freestyle relay was broken by the quartet of Maana Patel, Dhinidhi Desinghu, Janhvi Choudhary and Shivangi Sarma (3:53.80). The 4x200m freestyle relay team of Dhinidhi Desinghu, Shivangi Sarma, Vritti Agarwal and Hashika Ramachandra also set the new mark of 8:37.58.
Olympian Maana Patel, a national record-holder in the women’s 50m and 100m backstroke, did not have the best of outings at the Asian Games, failing to make the finals in the 50m and 100m backstroke events.
Virdhawal Khade, the men’s 50m butterfly bronze medallist at Asian Games 2010, also participated in Hangzhou but did not make the finals.
Likith Selvaraj broke into the 100m breaststroke final and came seventh with a timing of 1:01.62.
The Indian swimming squad for the Asian Games 2023 consisted of a blend of youth and experience.
The 13-year-old Dhinidhi Desinghu, the national record in the women’s 200m freestyle, was the youngest Indian swimmer in Hangzhou. She came fourth in the 200m freestyle heat and was part of both the relay teams that broke the national records.
Indian swimming ace Sajan Prakash, a two-time Olympian, was also in the Indian squad for Hangzhou 2023. He qualified for the men's 200m butterfly final but fell short of a medal.