Srihari Nataraj is an Indian professional swimmer. He is the youngest Indian male swimmer to qualify for FINA ‘A’ standard of international swimming in the men’s 100m backstrokes and to earn a direct entry for the Tokyo Olympics 2020. Srihari holds several national records to his name.
Srihari Nataraj was born on Tuesday, 16 January 2001 (age 20 years; as of 2021) in Bangalore, India. His zodiac sign is Capricorn. Srihari attended Delhi Public School, Bangalore and Jain Heritage School, Bangalore for his primary and secondary education. He got himself enrolled at the Sri Bhagawan Mahaveer Jain College, Bangalore to pursue his higher education. Srihari Nataraj was very fond of playing sports since childhood and started practising swimming at the age of 2. Srihari had participated in various national and international level swimming competitions before entering his teenage.
Height (approx.): 6′ 1″
Weight (approx.): 80 kg
Eye Colour: Black
Hair Colour: Black
Parents & Siblings
Srihari Nataraj was born in a family of athletes. His father, Nataraj Venkataramanan, was a Bangalore University cricketer. His mother, Kalyani, was a volleyball player who represented Tamil Nadu in the Junior Nationals. His brother, Balaji Nataraj, is also a swimming athlete. Srihari Nataraj’s paternal uncles were cricket players who had played for the Ranji, and his first cousin had the opportunity to play with Rahul Dravid.
Srihari Nataraj began his swimming practises at the age of 2. He was trying out every possible sport available to him at this early age but was more inclined towards cricket. Srihari in an interview said,
I used to bowl fast and leg-spin. I used to play basketball, tennis and football, too.”
But his love for the blue waters virtually began while he used to watch his elder brother practising in the pool. Srihari first participated in a swimming competition when he was 5. He narrates his first swimming race experience as
My first race was when I was 5 Years old. I was swimming for two events. It was a very memorable race because it was one of the races which kindled my career in swimming. That is the reason I’m a swimmer now. Being the youngest swimmer and winning two golds was very motivating and exciting!”
Srihari Nataraj was practising under coach A.C. Jayarajan, who saw his abilities at this early age and suggested training him professionally. Later, he was shifted to the famous swimming coach Nihar Ameen’s academy. A few years of practice and a strict diet routine helped him sweep medals in a number of various state levels and national level competitions.
Srihari Nataraj marked his international debut in 2015 at the Asian Age Group Swimming Championships where he ended up with the 8th position in 200m Medley, 6th in 100m Backstroke, and 200m in Backstroke. Srihari won his first national-level Gold medal in 100m Backstroke at the National Junior Aquatic Championships 2017 clocking 57.33 seconds.
In the same year, he participated in the National Junior Aquatic Championships, held in Pune and set the national records in 100m Backstroke, 50m Backstroke, 200m Backstroke, and 200m Freestyle, winning gold medals in each respective match. In 2018, Srihari Nataraj set another national record in 100m Backstroke by clocking 56.71 seconds. Srihari bagged a total of 7 gold medals in the Khelo India Youth Games 2019. He won his first international gold medal at the Asian Age Group Swimming Championships in the 4x100m Freestyle Relay team. 73rd Senior National Aquatic Championships witnessed Srihari breaking his own national record in 200m Backstroke and 100m Backstroke.
On 1 July 2021, Srihari created a historic moment and became the youngest Indian swimmer to qualify FINA “A” standard qualification time in the men’s 100m backstroke time trial at the Settecolli Swim Meet in Rome, Italy and earned his direct ticket to the Tokyo Olympics 2020. Indian sports minister Shri Kiren Rijiju took to Twitter to congratulate Srihari Nataraj for his remarkable achievement.
- 2016: 100M Backstroke at South Asian Aquatic Championships, Colombo, Sri Lanka
- 2016: 200M Backstroke at South Asian Aquatic Championships, Colombo, Sri Lanka
- 2016: 4x 100M Medley Relay at South Asian Aquatic Championships, Colombo, Sri Lanka
- 2017: 50m Backstroke at National Junior Aquatic Championships, Pune, India
- 2017: 100m Backstroke at National Junior Aquatic Championships, Pune, India
- 2017: 200m Backstroke at National Junior Aquatic Championships, Pune, India
- 2017: 200m Freestyle at National Junior Aquatic Championships, Pune, India
- 2019: 50m Freestyle at Khelo India Youth Games, Pune, India
- 2019: 200m Freestyle at Khelo India Youth Games, Pune, India
- 2019: 50m Backstroke at Khelo India Youth Games, Pune, India
- 2019: 100m Backstroke at Khelo India Youth Games, Pune, India
- 2019: 200m Backstroke at Khelo India Youth Games, Pune, India
- 2019: 4x100m Medley Relay at Khelo India Youth Games, Pune, India
- 2019: 4×100 Freestyle at Khelo India Youth Games, Pune, India
- 2019: 100m Backstroke at 73rd Senior National Aquatic Championships, Bhopal, India
- 2019: 200m Backstroke at 73rd Senior National Aquatic Championships, Bhopal, India
- 2020: 50m Backstroke at Uzbekistan Open Aquatic Championships, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
- 2020: 100m Backstroke at Uzbekistan Open Aquatic Championships, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
- 2016: 50M Backstroke at South Asian Aquatic Championships, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Awards & Honours
Ekalavya Award 2020
On 22 November 2020, Srihari Nataraj was honoured with the Ekalavya Award for his outstanding performance in swimming. Ekalavya Award is awarded to the sports personalities of the nation by the Government of Karnataka for their outstanding performance in the field of sports. The awardees are honoured with a golden trophy and a cash prize of Rs. 2 Lakhs.
- National Record in the men’s 100-meter backstroke at Sette Colli Trophy Meet, Rome, 2021
- First Indian to reach the finals of the 2018 Youth Olympics
- Swimmer: Michael Phelps
- Athlete: Milkha Singh
- Cuisine: Indian
- Rock Band: Linkin Park
- Srihari Nataraj practised freestyle swimming in the early stage of his swimming career. It was on his coach AC Jayarajan’s recommendation that he also began practising backstroke and won his first gold medal in a 100 backstroke competition.
- Srihari Nataraj, in an interview, revealed that he follows a specific ritual before and after completing every match. He said,
Pre-Match – I pray before starting the race and listen to music from the time I leave to the race venue until I start the race. Post-Match – I thank God as soon as the race ends, I meet my coach immediately when I am out of the water.”
- Srihari Nataraj has represented India at various national and international levels, participating in the 2018 Asian Games, 2018 Commonwealth Games, and 2019 World Aquatics Championships.
- In an interview, Srihari’s mother revealed that Srihari’s father was not convinced for continuing with Srihari’s professional trips for the World Championships as it cost way more than they could afford. She said,
When his dad heard that we had to spend so much for the World Championships, he said, ‘You need not go. If you have to go to the worlds spending money, what value do your achievements have?”
She further added,
We have spent nearly INR 8 lakh for Srihari’s two World Championships within the last one month or so, the senior worlds in Gwangju in July and the junior in Budapest, which ended a few days ago. We spend INR 70,000-80,000 every month for his swimming and have spent nearly INR 30 lakh for his sport over the last few years.”
- From 2018 onwards, Srihari Nataraj is sponsored by PumaIndia, FastandUnIndia, and Merakiconnect for his event trips. Srihari often promotes these brands on his social media accounts.
- Srihari also runs a YouTube channel named “Srihari Nataraj” where he shares videos of his swimming race events.
- Srihari is an animal lover and desires to have a pet dog in his own home.
- Srihari Nataraj likes playing Jenga in his leisure time.
- Srihari Nataraj’s favourite Quote is
I am not always right but I am never wrong.”