You just can’t afford to give this one a miss at the Commonwealth Games. This is your chance to see the living swimming legends in action when some of the best in business will look to set the pool on fire. All this and much more will be on offer when the international stars will start descending on the Capital for the mega event.
Though a security threat did pose a problem to the faint-hearted, most of them are unfazed and are ready to create a splash.
Australia’s Eamon Sullivan, a world-record holder, in his recently posted blog on www.elitesports.com says there are only two things that keep him going — the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics. “Even having been to two Olympic meets and one Commonwealth Games already, I still find it hard to explain what it is that makes the experience so great. I also haven’t been able to find anything else that can replicate the feeling,” the Australian writes.
Another showstopper and compatriot Stephanie Rice, though, will sit out through a shoulder injury. But that's hardly a dampener.
The other contenders, by all means, will give you an adrenaline rush. Sample this: Australia have 557 medals from the Commonwealth Games so far. So will they rule the pool even this time?
While the answer is most definitely yes, they will face their biggest challenge from New Zealand, Canada and England.
Where Britain have a world diving champion in Tom Daley, who is all of 16, Australia have a triple Olympic champion, Liesel Jones, and a former world champion, Geoff Huegill. Canada are not far behind either with their world record holder Annamay Pierse.
Where do the hosts stand?
Going by records, India’s aquatics team is unlikely to land a historic gold here, but that has not deterred the Swimming Federation of India (SFI) to field a 26-member contingent for the Games.
India’s best bets are Sandeep Sejwal, Virdhawal Khade, Rehan Poncha and Aaron D’Souza. And just when India announced their squad, the unthinkable happened.
Richa Mishra, Jyotsana Pansare — part of the CWG team, and Amar Muralitharan — were caught for dope. They tested positive for ‘methylhexaneamine’, a banned substance. “In any case, we never considered Richa and Jyotsana as medal prospects,” says Virender Nanavati, the SFI secretary-general.
Training goes haywire
The core group swimmers were training in Bangalore since October 2008. But a year later, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) officials asked the team to move the camp to Pune. “Our preparations went haywire,” says Nanavati.
“We wanted to practice in Bangalore as most of the team members come from there. In Pune, we faced problems of food, weather etc. We were praying our swimmers wouldn’t take ill.”
Until 2009, the swimmers were in good form and the record books swelled with best performances that year. The swimmers returned a rich hauls in international events. This includes seven medals from Asian Swimming Championship at Foshan, China, 28 from Asian Age-Group Championship in Japan, five from Asian Indoor Championships and three from the Asian Youth Games in Singapore.
But once the national camp was shifted to Pune, the performance graph started to nosedive. “The swimmers could not train properly in the hot conditions. There was no proper scientific support also,” said national coach Pradeep Kumar.
Swimming has never fetched India any medal in the CWG but the host team will look to swim through choppy waters, “The way they are training and making efforts against all odds, I am confident they will shine at the Games,” insisted Nanavati.