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Swimmers Sajan Prakash, Srihari Nataraj: Went All Out in Rome to Qualify, was Hard to Re-Peak at Tokyo Olympics Soon After

Srihari Nataraj clocked 54.31s to finish 27th in 100m backstroke at the Tokyo Olympics, while Sajan Prakash managed 1:57.22 in the 200m butterfly event to be ranked 24th among 38 swimmers. Both were unable to match their personal bests.
Indian swimmers Sajan Prakash and Srihari Nataraj

Swimmers Sajan Prakash (left) and Srihari Nataraj who qualified for the Tokyo Olympics with the ‘A’ standard in their events.

Sajan Prakash and Srihari Nataraj had an underwhelming Tokyo Olympics but the experience gained would help keep them in good stead for future events, The swimmers are currently focusing on getting prepared for the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games next year, 

Prakash had become the first swimmer from the country to qualify for an Olympics by breaching the 'A' standard time at a qualifying meet in Rome on June 26. A day later, Nataraj sealed his berth for the Games.

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However, they couldn't repeat their performance in Tokyo, failing to qualify for the semifinals. Nataraj clocked 54.31s to finish 27th overall in 100m backstroke, while Prakash managed 1:57.22 in the 200m butterfly event to be ranked 24th among 38 swimmers. They weren't even able to match their personal bests, which they had clocked a few weeks earlier.

"I didn't have enough time to prepare to compete in the Olympics after Italy. We only had three weeks to start again. If I had three months it would have been a better performance," Prakash was quoted by PTI.

"I already tapered to the maximum for the qualification meet, went all out and then I had to come back again and start with the aerobic work, build it up and then reduce till the competition day. It needs at least six weeks," Prakash added.

Tapering refers to the practice of reducing training volume while increasing rest in order to prepare one's body to achieve the best times at important meets.

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"I tapered for a good two-two-and-a-half-weeks for Rome. After that I had to re-train to get my base back and that caused fatigue. I require a lot of tapering, we had only three after Rome. I didn't have time to train and re-taper," Nataraj said.

"I prepared my best, tried to return into training and re-peak within 3 weeks after Rome but it seemed quite hard,” he added.

But that's not to say that the two were satisfied with their performance, especially Nataraj. Had the Bengaluru swimmer replicated his personal best, he would have made it to the semifinals.

"It was disappointing but I remember I was so exhausted after the race that I couldn't even stand. I struggled to walk. It was just pain," Nataraj said.

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The Olympics taught both swimmers valuable lessons and the duo plans to use the experience at future events.

"Standing there on the block made me realise a lot of things. Getting close to the world standard with the A time and this experience will be very helpful for me in the future, moving towards the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and the Worlds and maybe the next Olympics," Prakash said.

"I knew what went wrong. But more than the swim, I've learnt how to prepare myself before, after the swim, during the meet. How to work on my fitness, recovery, what I eat," Nataraj said.

"My main targets now are the Commonwealth and Asian Games. Hope to get 2-3 medals at these two events," he added.

(With additions from PTI)

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