Swimmer Maana Patel looks for Asian Games qualification

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Olympian Maana Patel has set her target for the Asian Games now. The 23-year-old talented swimmer from Ahmedabad is now looking to become the first woman from the country after veteran Shikha Tandon to make it to the prestigious Asian Games 2023, scheduled to take place in September this year.

"No woman has competed in Asian Games since 2006. My aim right now is to do well at the Asian Games qualifiers," Maana told PTI. "I have secured 8th place for the 200m backstroke but I aim to qualify for the sixth position and go in with a faster time." The last few months have been good for the swimmer as she won four gold medals at the Senior National Aquatic Championships in 2022.

But life took another turn when she was diagnosed with tonsillitis soon after. She experienced difficulty in breathing which affected her swimming as well. "During the National Games, I started falling sick, had severe throat pain, had difficulty swallowing food and liquid and I do get these issues now and again so I went to an ENT specialist and found out I had chronic tonsillitis.

"I had to get my deviated nasal septum surgery done. So, we decided to do tonsillectomy at the same time," said Maana, who is supported by ENGN. "The wall separating the nostril was slanting so I had trouble breathing. I would just keep yawning all the time to get more oxygen. I also had an extra bone growth on the side of the wall. We had to trim the bone and correct the wall.

"I was on painkillers and antibiotics for a month, even the doctor said I can't have these two procedures together because it will be painful and the recovery will be long but I couldn't afford to be away from the pool for that long." Eventually, she had a good return with silver medals in Singapore.

"In January, we introduced some new training methods, we were skeptical as to how this training would work for me. It was just a test to see whether we should continue with the training schedule. But it worked out well."

"We are trying on new swim sets, changed by gym schedule so I'm on a completely different land program."

Despite it being the season-opening meet, Maana was just 0.4s off her personal best, and she is confident she can go faster in the upcoming competitions. "I wasn't faster in Singapore, but it was 0.4 off my personal best. But I'm certain I can shave that off," said Maana.

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