For a 19-year-old, switching between exams and preparing for the Tokyo Olympics, is quite an unusual balancing act. But rising Indian swimmer Srihari Nataraj is acing it.
At 18, Nataraj was breaking senior national records at backstroke events at the 2019 World Junior Championship in Budapest.
Not only that, Nataraj is making the most of his opportunities at the international level, as he has already represented the country at the 2019 World Aquatics Championships, 2018 Commonwealth Games and 2018 Asian Games.
Nataraj, however, awaits confirmation on his Tokyo Olympics berth, after securing the lower B qualification mark or Olympic Selection Time (OST) in the 100m backstroke. He achieved this with a national record time of 54.69s in the 100m backstroke semifinals.
The B qualification achieved by Nataraj means he will qualify for the Tokyo Olympics only if the total quota of swimmers is not reached by the end of the qualification period. The automatic qualification time for the event is 53.85s.
But at the moment, Nataraj has found time away from the training session to appear for his exams.
"Yes, I had my exams a few weeks ago, it was my third-semester final exams. It didn't really affect my training as I found time around it to study and prepare for my papers. - Srihari Nataraj to Olympic Channel.
The young prodigy is conscious of the demands of the Olympic sport and has been taking care of his body right from a very young age. He reveals that growing up, he had already made sure not to consume junk food as much as possible which are sacrifices an elite athlete who hopes to make his mark on the world stage needs to make.
"I don't have a fixed diet exactly but I make sure to eat the necessary quantities and nutrients required and refrain from eating the junk foods as much as possible," Nataraj quipped.
The Bengaluru-born swimmer, who broke two national records at the 2019 FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, believes the swimming infrastructure in India is slowly improving and catching up to the standard of Europe or America.
He is currently training in Bengaluru under Dronacharya award-winning swimming coach Nihar Ameen. He feels that it is one of the best facilities in India.