Rajkot (Gujarat) [India], October 10 (ANI): One of India's all-time great swimmers, Virdhawal Khade, has been "highly impressed" with the standard of swimming as well as the way it has been organised at the 36th National Games.
Speaking on the concluding day of the action-packed event at the Sardar Patel Swimming Complex on Saturday, the 31-year-old Beijing Olympian and holder of several national records said he was pleased to see the change of guard in Indian swimming as represented by the youthful turnout at this event.
"It's been a very good meet with several youngsters and new faces coming forth. For the first-timers, it will count as very good experience," he stated, though some surprise results, like Sajan Prakash not winning the Men's 200m Freestyle, left him nonplussed.
A winner of six gold medals and setter of five meet records at the 33rd National Games in Guwahati 2007, Khade said that overall, he thought that the standard of competition here was much better than what it was in 2015 Kerala. "The standard of competition has been very high and the timings have been pretty good. I'm very impressed overall," he opined.
He was also effusive about the conduct of the event saying it was put together "very nicely" and the swimming pool was also very nice.
Asked to comment on the current Indian scene, Khade replied, "The boys have been doing well for a long time. And they have been improving consistently too."The girls are also doing well now in long distances while in sprints they are getting closer to the times set by Shikha Tandon, who ruled the pool in the late 1990s and early 2000s. "That's a big positive," he quipped.
Khade explained that the uptick in Indian swimming and the improvement in timings is a result of the "fantastic job" the federation (Swimming Federation of India) has been doing, along with the greater involvement of the government in sports. This has led to more money coming into the sport and the swimmers getting more international exposure.
"The federation and the government are doing a lot by supporting the sport, now it's time for the swimmers to put their efforts into their training and make sure they give off their best," he suggested.
In a sport where old is not mostly gold, Khade insisted that he's still a swimmer and not a coach, and he'll be training for the next Asian Games and will even participate in the next National Games if they are held next year.
Based in Mumbai where he trains at the Khar Gymkhana and also helps around the deck, Khade said he uses the vast experience he has gained as a swimmer to help improve the timings of those who do similar events. He is married to international swimmer Rujuta, also an alumnus of the same gymkhana; they have been described as "India's fastest swimming couple". (ANI)