Rudra Naik, Batch of 2014, ED department, talks about the experiences at the various Inter-IITs he still savours and narrates the success story of The Madras Sharks, as the Aquatics team calls itself.
It was undisputably the best team in his tenure as player and captain. Highlights of the Inter-IIT Aquatics Meet 2012 can be found here.

To start with, my activities in insti were mainly in one sport or the other. In my first year, I was the only hostel sports volunteer. From the very beginning, I was involved in practice with the swimming team, so that didn’t leave me with much energy for anything else. In the second year, I was promoted to the position of  captain of the Hostel Aquatics (Swimming and Water polo) and the Triathlon teams, all at once. The following year, I went on to become the Sports Secretary of Narmada. The year after that, I was selected as the water polo captain for the institute and in my final year, I was the Triathlon captain for the insti team. Besides that, I also managed to set up an informal cycling group for insti on facebook, the Madras Cyclers. The travails we faced cannot be forgotten.
I would participate in any activity if time permitted,and I would be willing to give up a lot of other activities to participate in sports. I played basketball, would go for some of the athletics events (shot put, discus throw), road races, triathlons, swimming, water-polo, cycling, parkour and even tried my hand at squash.

Some accomplishments with the Swimming and the Water polo teams:

After Winning Gold at the state water polo meet

The Winners, State Water Polo meet

Well, as far as I can recall, I was lucky enough to lead the team, which won the first ever gold for Narmada in Swimming. The same goes for Triathlon. As a sports secretary, again, I was lucky enough to lead a contingent, whose performance in the Schroeter that year changed the notion that Narmada was a minnow.  From then on, Narmada has always been a strong contender for the Schroeter Trophy, which I am sure it’ll conquer in the time to come. Good luck partnered me on all my trips. I led a very experienced and an incredibly talented team into the Tamil Nadu Masters’ state Aquatics Meet. This was the first time our Institute had participated, to my team’s and institute’s enormous surprise, we won! We emerged as champions of the state Water Polo tournament, and qualified for the nationals! We had to ditch the nationals for the Inter IIT Aquatics at Roorkee that year, where, once again we emerged as the champions. This victory was especially sweet because it came in the aftermath of our worst defeat ever in the same tournament the previous year.  In the following years inter IIT, we clinched Gold in both the Swimming and the Water-polo Championships.

After Winning Gold at the Inter IIT 2012

Gold at the Inter IIT 2012

That year, we finally broke the jinx of defeating IIT Kanpur in water-polo. And later on, we learnt that this was only the second time in the history of Inter IIT Aquatics, that a single institute had bagged both the golds, Swimming and Water polo in the same tournament.

In the Schroeter arena, I did manage to win a couple of medals, something which had never happened before I came to IIT. Outside the college, I managed to complete two Half Ironman Triathlons, a grueling multi-sport event where you swim about 2km, cycle 90km and then run 21km without a break and a few half marathons.

It wouldn’t have been possible to achieve all this without the facilities which the institute provided. Fantastic is an understatement. If there were just 3 reasons behind the distinctive performances of IIT Madras in the Inter IITs, they would be the dedication of the players, the very helpful staff and the equipment available in the institute. I can’t quote examples for other sports, but the swimming pool stands out and without a moment’s hesitation, I’ll say that it is far superior than those of other IITs. When our pool was closed down for 3 years for repairs, the staff made sure that the team had access to the best possible facilities and coaches.  Besides that, whichever sport you played, IITM made sure that you were healthy overall, courtesy the physical training coaches. The Gym, athletics stadium, squash courts, tennis courts, basketball courts, the football, cricket and hockey grounds and the whole campus itself! I bet no other place offers such an opportunity to improve your health.

A lasting memory from the Inter IITs:

It would be a sacrilege to begin to note them here, because there are simply so many of them!   But some of them, however are indelible. The first one was in my first ever inter IIT. We had reached the semi-finals and faced Bombay. A poorly selected caterer serving pathetic food somehow managed to food poison a majority of our team. 5 out of the first 7 in the squad had been hospitalized. To be honest, we were practically out of the tournament but these 5 guys did something, which is still etched in my memories. All of them, with saline drips attached to their arms, managed to get themselves escorted to the pool, against all serious advice. They came to the pool, ripped off their drips and other patches and jumped inside the pool. They won! Against all odds, against a very formidable team, my next to unconscious team mates won!  I just can’t put in words here what impression that left on my mind, let alone the opponents. That day, I realized that the only thing which limits you is that thing between your ears. A true ode to the saying  “Where there is a will there is a way”. That lesson later on drove me to do things which people would normally label as crazy (cycling solo along the length of Kerala, convincing 2 guys to cycle from Chennai to Mumbai, Half Ironman Triathlons, Marathons, etc.).

Then, in my third year, at Inter IIT Aquatics held in Kharagpur, our team was dished out probably the worst ever defeat in its history. We lost twice to IIT-KGP, 7-4 and 5-1. I remember it especially because it shattered my team’s confidence. We had gone into the tournament with high expectations and had come out as washouts. Somewhere deep within, this experience dealt a long lasting blow. The following year, we had got on our guns from our victory in the state Waterpolo meet, and were lying in wait for revenge. Then we faced Kharagpur in the semi-finals. The first quarter was pretty much lacklustre with both the teams not making any impressive moves. Then Kharagpur’s game took a turn for the worse, and one of their players punched our main defender on the cheek, which swelled up. Not soon after that, I was elbowed right below my eye, which started bleeding. After a few brief protests to the referees, as if the adrenaline had just spiked because of the two incidents, our team unleashed a blitzkrieg so severe that in the next half of the game, we had demolished the other team by 11-1. The victory was sweet and in some senses, more so than what we felt after winning the finals against Bombay. Madras had lifted the Water-polo gold after 4 years of continuously dwindling performances.

Team at the Terry Fox Run

Team at the Terry Fox Run

Of course, the next year, we clinched golds both in Water Polo and Swimming, which by itself, was a memorable experience. Besides all that, running together as a team in the Terry Fox Charity Run also used to be fun!

The best experience of course was having had the opportunity to play with arguably, some of the best players and people that I have ever known – Tokas(Abhinav Gopal), Tattu (Varun Gupta), Chutta (Kaushal Narayan),Bonus (Deva Nathan, without a doubt the best goalie EVER), Crunchy (Krishna Rao), Gujju (Sahaj Parikh), Hoby (Ishan Soni), Gullu (Suraj Gullapalli), Kundi(Prudhvi Challagundala), Anand Parikh and Roja (Deepak Karwa).

The Super Shark stance

The Super Shark stance

Apart from this, there were some amazing fun experiences which I had with the Sharks. The prize ceremonies have always been fun, during the inter IITs. Every year, our team would come up with some war-cry. At one point in time, it was borrowed from the movie Singham, where every Shark would go into an “Atta majhi satakli” pose when being clicked, or after scoring a goal, against the opposing team. Then, the year before, it was the Gangnam style, sporting a lungi! So every time a member went on the podium to receive his medal, he’d go up wearing a lungi and without a t-shirt, and break into the Gangnam style moves when the photograph was being taken. Another time, we’d just shout “aye aye aye” every time an event occurred, be it a goal scored or a goal saved. And the journeys to and fro from the destination were always fun filled, with food pouring in from some or the other players’ house!