BENGALURU: Srihari Nataraj and Maana Patel are Swimming Federation of India’s nomination for the Universality places for the Tokyo Olympics. Since they have not acquired the A qualification, the two were picked based on their FINA rankings and have been fielded under the Universality quota.
However, the final call will depend on the quota available after the A cut entrants are listed. Though Srihari is happy with the decision, the Bengaluru man is looking to give it his all in the Setti Colli Trophy in Rome, starting Friday.
So far, six Indian swimmers have achieved the Olympic Selection Time (B cut), including Srihari and Sajan Prakash, who will both compete in Rome. The former has a B cut in 100m backstroke, while the latter has done so in the 100m and 200m butterfly. So far, no Indian swimmer has attained the A mark.
“I'm grateful for the nomination but it's not over till it's over. Me and Sajan are both 0.6 away so we don't know who can potentially pull off an A cut. Others (Indian swimmers) are racing in the US as well around the same dates. I am going to race on Friday and Sajan on Saturday, so it's not over,” said Srihari, who, by his standards, did not have an impressive timing during the Belgrade Tour, which concluded recently. He clocked 54.45s in 100m backstroke when the A cut stands at 53.85s.
To be fair, Covid-19 had hampered his preparations. Before leaving for Belgrade, Srihari had not taken a splash in the pool for almost three weeks with swimming pools in Karnataka closed. With the next competition in Rome, which will be far more competitive, he has to be on top of his game from the preliminary stage itself to make an impact.
“In Rome, pool and racing conditions are better and faster. ….It is the last meet. There are only three foreigners allowed in the final so I have to go out in the preliminary race to have a chance to swim again in the evening,” Srihari said.