Durban, South Africa: Swimmer Aryan Makhija claimed his third medal at the South African Junior Nationals with a win in the 1500 m freestyle event at the King’s Park Swimming Pool, in Durban, South Africa, on Monday. Makhija’s time of 16:05.64 beats the qualification standard set by the Swimming Federation of India for the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games, to be held in Bahamas, in July.
“Aryan has been working really hard as it was his main aim to beat the qualification time since it was announced by the Swimming Federation of India. I’m very proud of what he’s achieved and I’m sure he will continue to improve and go on to even higher levels of performance,” said JSW Sports’ Swimming Head Coach, Graham Hill, who also serves as coach for Swimming South Africa.
South Africa’s James Freeman (16:05.85) finished second while Andrew Ritchie (16:25.73) claimed third in a race that was tightly contested right from the start between the 17-year-old Makhija and Freeman, who represented the University of Pretoria.
A two-horse race for most parts, at the 500 meter mark, Freeman clocked in at 5:22.22 while Makhija was close behind at 5:22.44. Mumbai-born Aryan made his move in the second 500 meter stretch, clocking in at 1000 meters with a 1.72 second lead over Freeman. The final stretch saw Freeman move within 1.36 seconds of Makhija with 50 meters to cover, but it wasn’t to be for the South African.
Aryan’s finish beats the Swimming Federation of India’s qualification time of 16:06.06 (based on the third place finish at the previous Commonwealth Youth Games) by 0.42 seconds and the youngster expressed his happiness at having recorded the feat.
“I’m really happy to have claimed three medals, but more so to have beaten the qualification time for the Commonwealth Youth Games. Graham sir has been pushing me to work harder every day and I have to thank him and the JSW Sports family for all their support,” Makhija said.
Earlier, Aryan had claimed Silver in the 200 metre freestyle event with a time of 1:56.51 and Gold in the 400m freestyle clocking in at 4:05.15.