by Poorna Kumar
The aquatics leg of the 47th Inter IIT Sports Meet was held in IIT Kharagpur from 2nd to 5th October. The vast campus played host to aquatics contingents from all the older IITs as well as some new IITs (Mandi, Gandhinagar, Indore, and Rajasthan). It witnessed several hotly contested events in men’s and women’s swimming and water polo – all of which took place at the swimming pool named ‘Technology’ located in the Kharagpur campus.
The institute team consisted of 11 water polo players captained by Ishan Soni, a 4th year student of Mechanical Engineering. The men’s swimming team was led by Abhinav Gopal a 3rd year student of Biotechnology; the women’s swimming team was captained by Poorna Kumar, a 2nd year student of Electrical Engineering.
institute water polo team
One thing that has been noticed in recent inter-IIT’s is IITM’s gradual decline in water polo. Once a formidable power, grabbing the golds year after year, the jinx began in 2009 – with a silver in IIT Kanpur (however, that was attributed to a very unfortunate case of severe food poisoning of the team members). This was followed by a bronze in 2010, and fourth place this year.
The team’s lacklustre performance can be blamed on many reasons. The graduation of some star players – like the legendary Tattu (former insti Sports Sec) – is one of them. Another was the non-functional insti pool, which is closed for repair for an indefinite period. Braving the inconvenience of not having a pool to practise in, the institute team practiced at the Velacheri Aquatic Complex outside insti for the last two crucial months. Further, institute policy does not allow a coach to be engaged permanently by the team. So the team practises with a coach at the most for 2 months a year, usually even less. While other IITs regularly bring their coaches to the tournament, the insti team has been denied that privilege. The last minute cancellation of two team members due to unavoidable circumstances further added to their woes.
“We need a permanent water-polo coach who can come with us for inter IIT,” says Ishan Soni, the water polo team captain. “It was also difficult to practice with all the time constraints- unlike the insti pool, we were only allowed to use Velacheri pool for certain hours. On the plus side, the administration did help us a lot in getting us Velacheri pool to practise in, thanks to a very proactive Sports Advisor and Dr. Raju, the Sports Officer.”
the institute aquatics contingent (photo: Poorna Kumar)
With the standards of water polo in Inter IIT aquatics having shot up dramatically in the last couple of years, water polo was an intensely competitive event. The institute team made it to the semifinals, and then lost 4-3 to IIT Kanpur in a nail-biting semifinal match (with Kanpur scoring a spectacular goal in the last 30 seconds of the game). In the end, the institute team was forced to settle for fourth place, with the bronze going to IIT Kharagpur. IIT Kanpur, the gold medallists of last year, moved down to second place, while IIT Bombay placed first.
Men’s swimming events saw the institute team placing third in the 4 x 100 m freestyle relay. IIT Kharagpur won the overall men’s swimming championship with a very impressive tally of 14 gold medals, and strong performances by last year’s gold medallist Chirag Fialoke and Dharshan Varier.
IIT Madras placed third overall in women’s swimming, with Poorna Kumar winning bronze medals in 100m Freestyle, 50 m freestyle, 50m backstroke and 50 m butterfly. Niveditha Sharma of IIT Roorkee continued her winning streak from last year, winning several gold medals, and contributing to IIT Roorkee’s winning the overall championship in women’s swimming.
(Photos courtesy Deva, CS 3rd year)