Gujarat swimmer Kalyani Saxena completed a unique personal milestone at the Khelo India University Games (KIUG) on Wednesday, winning her 50th medal at the national level.
Kalyani, 20-years-old, is not new to creating records: at the 2019 Khelo India Youth Games in Pune, she plucked out Gujarat's first gold medal; in this year's edition at Guwahati too, she ended up with five medals, among the highest for a swimmer at the event.
She has been at it at the KIUG in Bhubaneswar as well, garnering four medals for Veer Narmad South Gujarat University, accounting for a third of her team's haul.
"Swimmers need regular pool time to keep improving," Kalyani explained, "The standard of competition also makes a difference. Here in Bhubaneswar, the standard has been very high in my events. As a result, my timings have also improved."
Kalyani's father and coach Ajay Saxena, described the struggle to prepare for back to back competitions as very ‘tough' but also ‘rewarding' for an athlete. "If you are planning back to back competitions, then workload becomes a huge issue," he says, "I have been working on her over the past few weeks, trying to strengthen some of her weaker strokes and tail off the stronger ones," he said.
According to Kalyani, her strongest stroke is the butterfly and not surprisingly she won an emphatic gold in the 200m, finishing three seconds ahead of Nikitha SV. Her main focus in training, though, is on the freestyle. "Most people will claim that as their strongest stroke," Ajay laughed, "but she has to work harder on it."