The 18th Edition of the Asian Games brought a lot of cheers for the Indian contingent. Sadly, the Swimming team slipped under the radar. The lack of a medal should not come to define the performance of our swim team.

An 11-member team took part in a total of 14 events and made it to 8 finals (excluding relay events). Not only did they make it to the most number of finals in the Asian Games yet, they did it in style by setting 7 new Best Indian Performances* (excluding relay events) on their way to this feat.

Our performance in the pool has been dissected below. It is safe to say that here is a lot to celebrate and look forward to. Though there are no medals to show for it, this has been one of the best performances in the pool. We have to look no further than the past 5 Asian Games performances to know this for a fact.

We have attempted to quantify the final results by assigning a weightage to each of the positions. (Refer to the table). Therefore we have arrived at a Team India Swimming Score (TISS). The medal positions earn the highest points as they are a cut above the rest. The position from 4-6 show exceptional performance in the finals while positions 7 and 8 are worth recognition as well.

(The chart captures the number of “Top 8” {finals or Timed Heats over all} performances in individual events and the corresponding Team India Swimming Score (TISS). It compares number and quality of finals performances since 1998 to 2018)

The graph clearly shows that 2018 has been significantly better than the past 5 Asian Games. There has been a giant leap in the number of Top 8 performances and the Team India Swimming Score.


  • 1998 Bangkok Asian Games: A seven member Indian team of 2 men {Sebastian Xavier & Sandeep Kakkar} and 5 women {Nisha Millet, Meghana Narayan, Abhinaya Shetty, Shikha Tandon & Richa Mishra} took part in the Games. None of the swimmers secured a Top 8 finish in an individual event at the games therefore the TISS for 1998 was 0.


  •  2002 Busan Asian Games: Only Shikha Tandon made the final in the Women’s 100m Freestyle event finishing 8th and notably, India only made the final in one stroke, i.e. Freestyle. There were 4 swimmers (2 men {Rehan Poncha & Akbar Ali Mir} and 2 women {Shikha Tandon & Richa Mishra}) part of the swimming team and only one of them made it to the Top 8 i.e. 25%. The TISS for 2002 was 1.


  •  2006 Doha Asian Games: No Indian swimmers were able to register a Top 8 performance. Our swim team comprised of 4 men {Rehan Poncha, Virdhawal Khade, Arjun Muralidharan & Ankur Poseria) and 1 woman {Shikha Tandon}. The TISS for 2006 was 0.


  • 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games: 8 years back in the backdrop of the support swimming received in lead up to the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, Indian swimmers powered through to put 3 Top 8 performances. Virdhawal Khade made it to two finals. He won a bronze medal in the Men’s 50m Butterfly and finished a narrow 4th in the in the Men’s 50m Freestyle missing bronze by 0.03sec. Mandar Anandrao finished 8th in the Men’s 1500m Freestyle. Virdhawal, a single swimmer was responsible for 66% of our Top 8 performances. Nine men {Aaron D’Souza, Anshul Kothari, Arjun Jayprakash, Sandeep Sejwal, Virdhawal Khade, Rehan Poncha, MB Balakrishnan, Mandar Anandrao & Havaldar Rohit) (and no women) represented India in the pool events and 2 of them made Top 8 i.e.: 22%. One bronze medal, one 4th place and one 8th place resulted in a TISS of 21.


  • 2014 Incheon Asian Games: One Top 8 performance was secured by Sandeep Sejwal who finished 3rd in the Men’s 50m Breaststroke. Seven men {Aaron D’Souza, Madhu P S, Anshul Kothari, Sandeep Sejwal, Saurabh Sangvekar, Sajan Prakash and Neil Contractorr} (and no women) and only one of them made a Top 8 performance hence 14%. The one bronze medal resulted in a TISS of 12.


  • 2018 Jakarta Asian Games: Eight Top 8 finishes are the highest in comparison to all results since the 1998 edition. The diversity of events is also commendable. Despite a medal eluding the participants, this has been the best performance in terms of quality and quantity. Out of 11 men {Neel Roy, Sauarbh Sangvekar, Srihari Nataraj, Arvind Mani, Anshul Kothari, Avinash Mani, Aaron D’Souza, Sandeep Sejwal, Advait Page, Sajan Prakash and Virdhawal Khade} (and no women) 5 made it to the finals and that is a healthy 45% . One 4th place, one 5th place, one 6th place, three 7th place and two 8th place resulted in a TISS of 29. The highest in the past 20 years.

While Freestyle events have been a strong area in the past, we have seen better performances in all other strokes as well.

This is a growth pattern that is commendable and holds great promise. Apart from the seasoned swimmers making us proud, there are young swimmers on the block setting new Best Indian performances. The prospect of better performances and medals in future events is surely brighter than before. 

STAND OUT INDIAN SWIMMERS FROM THE ASIAN GAMES (in order to their contribution to the Team India Swimming Score):

VIRDHAWAL KHADE OLY, 27: 2010 Asian Games medalist and veteran of Indian swimming who was making a comeback to competitive swimming showed good form again at the recently concluded Asian Games clocking two Best Indian Performances and making the Top 8 in Men’s 50m Freestyle and Butterfly. He finished 4th in the 50m Freestyle missing a Bronze medal by the narrowest margin of 1/100th of a second. Interestingly, with a time of 22.47 seconds in the final, he was just 0.36 seconds behind the gold medalist. That is about the same time it takes a human eye to blink. In the 50m Butterfly final he finished 8th.





SRIHARI NATARAJ, 17: This teenager set 3 new Best Indian Performances and made Top 8 in two individual events – Men’s 100m Backstroke (7th place) and 200m Backstroke (6th place). While he is only 17 years of age, he has brought India on the map of Backstroke swimming.







SAJAN PRAKASH OLY, 24: In the Men’s 200m Butterfly Sajan entered the finals in 3rd place. He went on to clock a Best Indian Performance time and finish a very creditable 5th place. He was only 1.99sec behind the bronze medal time. This is one of the best finishes for an Indian in this event after Khajan Singh Tokas won silver in 1986.








ADVAIT PAGE, 16: This teenager is another swimmer that Indians can look forward to over the coming years. He set one Best Indian Performance in the 800m Freestyle. He also finished in the Top 8 in the Men’s 800m Freestyle (8th place) and 1500m Freestyle (7th place). 






SANDEEP SEJWAL OLY, 29: 2014 Asian Games medalist in the Men’s 50m Breaststroke again made it to the Top 8 of the same event as he finished 7th in the final. 







Below are the New Best Indian Performances recorded (including relays):

Name: Timing and Event:
VIRDHAWAL KHADE 50m Butterfly: 24.09 *

50m Freestyle: 22.43 *

SRIHARI NATARAJ 50m Backstroke: 26.19*

100m Backstroke: 55.86*

200m Backstroke: 2:02.83

SAJAN PRAKASH 200m Butterfly: 1:57.75
ADVAIT PAGE 800m Freestyle: 8:09.13
4x100m Freestyle Relay (Aaron D’Souza, Anshul Kothari, Sajan Prakash and Virdhawal Khade.) 3:25.17 *

* The said time was recorded in the Heats and not the finals of the event.

These numbers clearly indicate that Indian Swimming is in-fact on an upward trajectory. We have more final / Top 8 appearances than before and 8 new Best Indian Performances to celebrate. As Indian swimmers shave seconds off of the Indian standards, they take a step closer to the international standards.

A young crop of swimmers with exceptional talent is the prospect ahead of us all. The correct steps and focused investments, NOW, will go a long way to assure greater success in the future.


(# Best Indian Performance: The best time clocked by an Indian swimmer anywhere in the world at an SFI recognized International competition. In India, ‘National Record’ is referred to the fastest time clocked at the SFI National meet.)
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  1. A good analysis of the swimming teams performance over the Asian games. Hope govt. gets a sight of these budding talents and motivates them and the sport of Swimming .

  2. A wonderful analysis of the India swimming team over various Asian games. It is indeed heartening to know that budding talent is being nurtured . Hope government encourages these sports people too. A medal is not a measure of performance, is a very NOBLE thought !

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