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News had emerged yesterday of Virdhawal Khade and Sandeep Sejwal qualifying for the Asian Games 2018 by way of the trials conducted by the Swimming Federation of India in Bangalore at the Padukone Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence. He registered a timing that way surpassed the Asian Games qualification mark. But, more than answering questions, the present way in which the Swimming trials were conducted leaves more questions than it answers. If one goes through the website that stands in for the country's administrative body on the sport, it is appalling how ill-maintained it is. The Swimming Federation of India has absolutely zero information regarding the Asian Games on its website barring a circular which was issued on April 23rd earlier this year informing all registered athletes of the trials set to take place on June 16 and 17. The results from the trials themselves are scarce despite them having taken place nearly three days back. The final team for Jakarta is expected to be announced after the National sub-junior & junior aquatic championships in Pune (June 24 to 29).
But that's not all.For a long time, swimming has been a sport long shrouded in anonymity- a fact that baffles any observer of Indian sports. It is not that this country has a dearth of water bodies or talent. In fact, swimming is one of the favourite ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle when it comes to the urban Indian but, somewhere, we have failed to rise up to the challenge on a more competitive level. Maybe, the Swimming Federation of India is largely to blame for this issue. Recently, the Commonwealth Games drew a lot of eyes towards the talent of young and upcoming swimmers like Srihari Natraj. The Khelo India School Games champion has been turning heads after he made a name as a record breaker in his field, setting higher benchmarks every time he took to the water. Overall, the performance of Indian swimmers in Gold Coast were encouraging enough to hint at definite progress, even if we aren't at a stage where we can claim to be capable enough to win World level medals. According to The Hindu, today, Virdhawal Khade was quoted as saying that he has been extremely happy with his performance in the trial. “It is definitely satisfying,” Khade told The Hindu on Monday. “I have been working really hard and I expect to get much better in the coming months leading up to the games.” According to the same article, Khade recorded a personal best timing of 22.52s in 50m freestyle to qualify for Jakarta. The Asian Games qualification mark set by the Swimming Federation of India was 22.91s. And what about Sandeep Sejwal? All the information that is available on his performance in the trial is that he broke a National record to qualify for the Asian Games 2018, going under the qualification mark set by the Swimming Federation. https://twitter.com/SpeedoIndia/status/1008664228239208448 Were the trials competitive at all? Without the limelight, without the encouragement, how does one expect the swimmers to ever come to forefront enough to be taken seriously as athletes. The shroud of secrecy continues with the Swimming Federation of India.