Family kept Kerala flood news away from Asian Games swimmer to help him focus

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The family of Indian swimmer Sajan Prakash kept news of a devastating flood in his home state of Kerala away from him so it did not affect his Asian Games performance, the 24-year-old told Reuters on Tuesday.

The first Indian swimmer to reach an Asiad final in 32 years, Prakash clocked 1 minute and 57.75 seconds — a national record but 3.22 seconds behind champion Seto Daiya — to finish fifth in the men’s 200 metres butterfly final on Sunday.

Back home, the death toll neared 400 as Kerala continues to battle its worst flood in a century with dozens of people missing and 1.2 million sheltering in the camps.

“I didn’t know about the event because my mother kept the news away from me,” Prakash said at the Gelora Bung Karno Aquatic Centre.

“I swam my best but unfortunately I missed out... I’m upset because I have been preparing for this event for the last one year without any break.”

Media reports in India said five members of his family in Kerala briefly went missing.

His mother, who stays in the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu, said Prakash kept calling her to enquire about family members after learning about the flood.

“I could not contact others (to share the news of making the final)... My uncle from Dubai said everybody is safe,” Prakash said.

The swimmer achieved his personal target time in Jakarta but felt he could have done even better.

“One minutes 56 seconds was my target, but even that was not inside medal chances... I’m just not satisfied with my performance,” he added.

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