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Asian Games

Can India's women swimmers prove a point on return to Asian Games after 17 years?

Asian Games 2023: There have been a total of two women swimmers from India to be taking part in the Asian Games in this century. This year, Maana Patel headlines a nine-member squad. Can she clinch a historic finish?

Maana Patel

Maana Patel has the best chance among India's female swimmers of making it to the finals at the 2023 Asian Games (PTI)


Shourya Mehta

Updated: 12 Sep 2023 9:40 AM GMT

Swimming events have been regular in the Asian Games since its first edition in 1951, but the last time a woman swimmer represented India was in 2006, when Olympian Shikha Tandon had made the cut in 50m freestyle.

After a long wait of 17 years, nine Indian female swimmers have qualified for the Asian Games. The selection was made by the Swimming Federation of India (SFI) based on performances at the National Aquatics Championships 2023.

India's women swimmers have missed out on the Asian Games since 2006 because of the qualification criteria that all those who go must meet the top-6 timings from the previous edition of the Asian Games.

With rising Asian standards in swimming, the number of Indian swimmers at such elite competitions has dwindled in the 21st century. From five women at the 1998 Games to two in the 2002 Games to only one at the 2006 Games to complete absence since then, Indian women swimmers have been unable to meet the qualification criteria.

Two women swimmers from India have been part of the Asian Games in this century - Shikha Tandon and Richa Mishra. This year, there will be nine Indian women.

India's women swimmers at 2023 Asian Games

Tokyo Olympian Maana Patel will be the highlight of the contingent. Young Indian swimmers Lineysha AK, Nina Venkatesh, Dinidhi Desinghu, most of whom are aged between 14-19 years, have broken various national records recently. This youthful Indian must overcome their lack of international experience to secure medals.

While it remains doubtful if Russian swimmers will be among the field of competition, China are expected to dominate the pools in Hangzhou. They have a formidable squad with World Championships medallists. Japan and South Korea are also strong swimming nations.

Indian Women's Swimming Team: Anannya Nayak (100M Freestyle), Dinidhi Desinghu (200M Freestyle), Hashika Ramachandran (200M Individual Medley), Lineysha AK (100M Breaststroke), Maana Patel (100M Backstroke), Nina Venkatesh (50M Butterfly), Palak Joshi (200M Backstroke), Shivangi Sarma (100M Freestyle), Vritti Agarwal (4x200M Relay)

Medal chances, possible rankings in women’s swimming

Maana Patel | 100M Backstroke | Personal Best - 1:03.69 | Season Best - 1:04.26 | AR- 58:70 | Possible Finish - 7th-9th

Maana Patel rewrote her national record in the 100m backstroke event at the national championships this year. She is expected to put up a strong fight to qualify for the finals at the Asian Games.

Maana's best timing for this year - 1:04.26 - would have kept her at 7th place among Asians at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships. Two other swimmers from Philippines also beat her mark this year, making Maana the 9th fastest swimmer in Asia in 100m backstroke for this year.

Maana's chances of a medal are quite low, but she will be expected to reach the final.

Dhinidhi Desinghu | 200M Freestyle | Personal Best, Season Best - 2:04.24 | AR - 1:53.92 | Possible Finish - Outside chance to qualify for final

The youngest member of the side, Dhinidhu has also roared to a new national record this year in the 200m freestyle event. However, as many as four Asians have breached the 2-minute mark in this event this year, which indicates that medals are out of the question. However, a spot in the final might not be out of reach as a total of nine Asians have finished faster laps than her this year.

Dhinidhu's PB would not have been good enough to enter the 2018 Asian Games final. But with the standards having fallen in this event at the Asian level in the last 5 years, could she sneak into the final?

Hashika Ramachandran | 200M Individual Medley | Personal Best, Season Best - 2:21.15 | AR - 2:07.57 | Possible Finish - Outside chance to qualify for final

Hashika's personal best in the individual medley event is the ninth best mark among Asian swimmers this year, indicating that she does have an outside chance to make it to the final. However, 2018 Asian Games records show the cut-off timing for the final was 2:18.69, which is way faster than her personal best. Like Dhinidhu, could the falling competition in her field help Hashika earn an unlikely final berth?

Nina Venkatesh 50M Butterfly | Personal Best, Season Best - 27.74 | AR - 25.05 | Possible finish - Outside chance to qualify for final

Like Hashika and Dhinidhu, Nina has an outside chance to make it to the finals too, as her personal best of 27.74 seconds would have been good enough to make the Asian Games finals in 2018. Nine Asian swimmers have registered faster timings than Nina this year.

Lineshya | 100M Breaststroke | Personal Best, Season Best - 1:12.67 | AR - 1:05.19 | Possible Finish - Won't qualify for final

Lineysha is one of the younger swimmers in the side who are going into the Asian Games after having created new national records. But even her best mark of 1:12.67 would have only kept her at 12th spot among Asians at the 2023 World C'ships.

The timings for the top 8 swimmers at the 2018 Asian Games was 1:09.08. Lineysha is therefore not expected to qualify for the final.

Palak Joshi | 200m Backstroke | Personal Best, Season Best - 2:18.09 | AR - 2:06.46 | Possible Finish - Won't qualify for final

Palak Joshi's personal best timing is slower than at least ten Asian swimmers this year. Therefore, she is unlikely to make the final. However, the cut-off timings for the 2018 Asian Games final was 2:19.12, which would have made Palak go through. It appears Palak will not make it to the final this time because the Asian level of competition has become better in 200m backstroke in the last five years.

Anannya Nayak, Shivangi Sharma | 100M Freestyle | Personal Best, Season Best - 57.31, 57.73 | AR - 54.27 | Possible Finish - Won't qualify for final

Anannya Nayak and Shivangi Sharma will both be in the 100m freestyle event. The timing of the slowest finalist from the 2018 Asian Games was 56.49, which is still faster than the Indian national record of 57 seconds. At least ten Asian swimmers have achieved better times than the Indian national record this year.

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