Asian Games: The ever-growing bridge between Indian and Chinese swimmers

India has won only nine medals in swimming at the Asian Games overall, while China has over 400.

srihari nataraj maana patel asian games asian games 2023 asian games swimming india in swimming at asian games

The 2014 Incheon Asian Games was the last time that India had won a swimming medal at the Asian Games — Sandeep Sejwal’s bronze medal in the men’s 50m breaststroke category. Nine years have since then, and the country doesn’t really know when and where the next medal in the pool comes from. When the Chinese and the Japanese are now in the race not just for the Asian records, but World Records, we are still only competing.

India in Swimming at 2022 Asian Games

In a time when nations like Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam, and Kazakhstan have started making a mark, India is not even playing the catch-up game. China has once again dominated the pool with 24 golds, followed by Japan at three. Hong Kong has two yellow medals to their name. India’s one of the few performances to talk about at this Asian Games came in the men’s 4 × 200m freestyle relay, where our boys shattered the national record. Aryan Nehra, Aneesh Gowda, Kushagra Rawat, and Tanish Mathew came up with a timing of 7:29.23s. But despite this effort, India only finished seventh, with South Korea taking the gold medal with a time of 7:01.73s.

In the men’s 4 × 100 m medley relay, India broke another national record. With a timing of 3:40.20s, we finished fifth with China taking the top prize with an Asian record at 3:27.01s. Another record to tumble in this edition was the women’s 4 × 100 m freestyle relay. The quartet of Dhinidhi Desinghu, Maana Patel, Janhvi Choudhary, and Shivangi Sarma managed a timing of 3:53.80s to finish seventh. China, once again took the gold, with an impressive time of 3:33.96s.

Srihari Nataraj made two finals at Asian Games, while Maana Patel could not even make one.

China in Swimming at 2022 Asian Games

While no one can deny that there is progress shown by the Indian swimmers, across all categories, but that is not enough. Just to get a fair idea, as to how far behind we actually are, we need to study China’s results in the pool in this Asian Games. The hosts have literally set the pool on fire and created four Asian records to go with 11 Games records. A total of 49 medals is what they have from the pool, including 24 golds.

In the events where India ended made it to the final, China was leaps and bounds better than what we achieved. Srihari Nataraj finished sixth overall in the men’s 50m and 100m backstroke events. In the former, China’s Xu Jiayu got gold with a timing of 24.38s. In the 100m, the same swimmer clocked 52.23s to win gold. In this event, Nataraj was at least a second slower than the Chinese. Their swimmer Zhang Yufei, has bagged five gold medals in this edition of the Asian Games alone, while India has only nine medals overall, with just one gold. Yufei won her medal in the 100m and 200m butterfly events, 4x100m freestyle relay, 4x100m mixed medley, and 50m freestyle.

A big Question Mark

Now that we are even struggling to compete at the Asian level, when will we be able to challenge the Commonwealth countries in the pool? With Australia, England, and South Africa there, the competition is tougher there for sure. Sending a swimming team that has no chance of winning medals here is embarrassing to say the least. In a sport where so many medals are at stake, a renewed, extra emphasis should be laid or else, we would still be left only competing at the next Asiad.


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