by Poorna Kumar
The Inter-IIT Aquatics Meet 2012 was held in IIT Roorkee from 2nd to 5th October. Notwithstanding the lack of a functioning swimming pool in our campus, the institute aquatics team – ‘The Madras Sharks‘ put up an impressive performance.
IITM’s water polo performance was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the tournament, and will carry over precious points to the General Championships. The water-polo team, under the captaincy of Rudra Naik, returned to its former glory and bagged the gold.
The group matches were against Kanpur, Guwahati and Roorkee. The match against arch-rivals Kanpur ended in a 3-3 draw on day 1. The next day, the team fortified its position by thrashing IIT Guwahati 14-0 and subsequently beating the hosts IIT Roorkee 3-2, to secure a spot in the semifinal against IIT Kharagpur, a team which had beaten the institute team twice last year.
The insti team scored a stupendous 11-1 victory against Kharagpur in the semifinals, and thundered their way into the finals. They were pitted against IIT Bombay for the finals, a formidable team and also last year’s water polo champions. After a tight match, they scored a 6-4 victory over IIT Bombay, to clinch this year’s inter IIT water polo championships, with IIT Bombay relegated to second position and IIT Kharagpur coming third.
According to Rudra Naik, “The tournament brought out amazing performances from the team, winning hearts and turning every other contingent in our favour. Every other Team supported us in the Finals. The highlights of our team were Abhinav Gopal, the center-forward and Devanathan, the Goalkeeper. The duo left the competitors torn apart across the pool. Krishna Rao, the swimming captain, outdid himself, being all over the pool during the game, rendering the opponents clueless about his strategies and the team’s strategy as a whole. Suraj, the central defender, came out as another wall for the opponents, almost impossible to pass through. His game not only shattered the confidence of the opponent shooters, but also reinforced confidence in our team’s forwards. Brothers Anand Parikh and Sahaj Parikh too left the other teams stunned, playing every role as and when needed, perfectly. Moreover, the team’s stamina was their biggest strength against every team, with the team playing in the exact same manner throughout the game and the opponents generally slacking off by the second half. The tournament brought out a Golden closure for final year students Sahaj Parikh, Suraj Gullapali and Ishaan Soni.”
Incidentally, the institute water polo team took part in the 2nd Tamil Nadu State Masters Water polo Tournament held in Velachery Aquatics Complex earlier this semester, and were crowned ‘State Senior Water polo Champions’.
The swimming team also put up a good show: the Institute swimming team, captained by Krishna Rao, bagged gold in the 4 x 100 m freestyle relay- with notable performances by Krishna Rao and Abhinav Gopal in particular, and bronze in the medley relay. Overall, IIT Kharagpur defended their position as reigning men’s swimming champions.
The girls swimming team, captained by Veena ‘GUGal’ ‘Quack’ Venkat, reached the finals of several events. The IIT Roorkee girls swimming team came first, and IIT Bombay came second. The girls swimming events witnessed strong performances from Nivedita Sharma of IIT Roorkee, who bagged several golds. Aditi Malpani from IIT Madras was a promising entry into the girls swimming team, and is sure to surprise a few people next year. She qualified for the finals in all the events that she took part in, and missed the podium by very narrow margins.
The lack of a swimming pool in insti was a major inconvenience, and the team had to conduct their practice sessions at the Velachery Aquatics Centre. They had to commute to the pool and back daily, and were faced with the problem of an inadequate number of lanes and space to practice in. The time spent commuting cut into their practice time, reducing it to half of what it used to be when the insti pool was functional. The team mentions that they had strong support from the institute authorities, the authorities of Velachery swimming pool, and also the campus swimming pool staff. They were also lucky to get a very enthusiastic and able coach for the water polo team, whose presence was invaluable and helped in their victory. Rudra Naik, captain of the water polo team says, “At the end of the day, our team rose above the circumstances to prove that we could win against the odds. We proved that we are a team to watch out for, no matter what.”