After splashing their way to becoming the fastest swimming couple of the country, the husband-wife duo of Virdhawal and Rujuta Khade’s next goal is to be national record holders of the 50m freestyle event.
While Virdhawal already holds the national record, he wants to see Rujuta emulate his feat.
Last week both Virdhawal and Rujuta won the 50m freestyle event in the men’s and women’s categories respectively in the nationals in Bhopal, making them the fastest swimming couple in the country.
First Virdhawal, the country’s fastest swimmer, broke the meet record in the 50m freestyle. The next day Rujuta followed her husband’s footsteps to take home the gold in the women’s event.
“More than my performance I was happy about Rujuta going on to win a medal in this nationals. It’s a matter of great pride for me,” Virdhawal told PTI.
“I was really stressed out when she was racing because she hasn’t raced since 2015. It was nervous excitement and when she won it was one of the best feelings that I have ever had.”
While Virdhawal felt like a proud husband watching his wife win, Rujuta, who was competing after a four-year hiatus, rued her chances of setting the new national record.
“The nationals was a great experience. This is the best that I have ever felt but I think the big stage got to me. I was also aiming to get the national record. Unfortunately, that did not happen.”
Becoming the fastest swimming couple in India was something that had crept into Virdhawal’s mind briefly before but Rujuta never thought about the feat.
“The thought had crossed my mind when I saw that she was swimming quite fast,” Virdhawal said.
“It feels great to have the title of being the fastest couple. I had never thought about it before,” Rujuta said.
The duo has qualified for the Asian Age Group Swimming Championships to be held in Bengaluru from September 24. While Virdhawal is focussing on making the A cut for the Tokyo Olympics, Rujuta is looking to set a new national record.
“I want to set the national record in 50m freestyle, Veer already has it. It’s something we have talked about and want to achieve as a couple. It will be great if I could also have one,” Rujuta said.
The two are ticking off couple goals one by one in the pool but both have faced setbacks in their careers. While Virdhawal’s comeback story is well documented Rujuta also has her own tale to tell.
“2015 nationals in Rajkot was the last time I swam competitively. After that, I had to take my graduation exams and then my coach passed away. I was to compete in the Youth Olympics but was not selected due to internal politics and then I just didn’t feel like swimming anymore. My love for food led me to pursue a culinary course.” Rujuta said.
It was during this time the two swimmers met. Soon after, they started dating and the duo ended up tying the knot in 2017.
“I went back to swimming to get fit and mainly because I had nothing to do in the evenings,” Rujuta said.
“Once I was swimming Veer started motivating me because I was doing well. But he never forced me to get back to competitions. It was around March this year that I decided I was ready and wanted to participate in competitions,” she added.
For now, the husband-wife duo is enjoying its time together in the pool. They were also a part of Maharashtra’s quartet that won the mixed 4x50m Freestyle event at the nationals.
“It was amazing to be swimming together. We hadn’t done that before. I loved swimming with him,” Rujuta said.