Likith Selvaraj is an Indian professional swimmer who has represented India in several international swimming competitions. He specialises in the breaststroke style of swimming.
Likith Selvaraj Prema aka Likith SP was born on Friday, 14 August 1998 (age 25 years; as of 2023) in Bengaluru, Karnataka, India. His zodiac sign is Leo. He started swimming at the young age of five.
He studied at Glenwood High School in Durban till 2016 where he started swimming training under Graham Hill. He later pursued a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree at JAIN Deemed-to-be University till 2020 and later pursued a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Strategic leadership and design at University of Indianapolis from August 2021 to June 2023.
Height (approx.): 5′ 10″
Weight (approx.): 70 kg
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Body Measurements (approx.): Chest 44″, Waist 30″, Biceps 14″
He belongs to a Hindu family.
Parents & Siblings
His mother’s name is Prema Mn. He has a sister named Charu.
Wife & Children
He is unmarried and does not have any children.
He is single.
He follows Hinduism.
He started swimming while studying in school and later competed in various junior swimming championships.
In September 2017, he trained at a swimming camp organised by the Sports Federation of India (SFI). He initially trained at Basavanagudi Aquatic Centre (BAC) and later at Nettakallappa Aquatic Center (NAC).
Likith initially competed for Karnataka in various national competitions; however, he later started representing Services, particularly the Indian Navy. In January 2019, he started training under Parth Varanashi.
He has also trained in South Africa and Austria during different times of his career. While living in the USA for his education, he also competed in NCAA Division 2 competitions. He later competed in various international competitions including finishing 7th in the 100-meter breaststroke final in the 19th Asian Games in 2023.
In an interview, Likith said that he trains swimming 4 hours daily for 5 days a week. He also does different adventure activities such as surfing, slacklining, yoga, skateboarding, and acro-yoga to increase his flexibility and agility as the breaststroke style of swimming puts a lot of strain on hips and knees.
- 50 and 200-meter breaststroke at 25th South Zone Aquatics Championship in 2011
- 200-meter individual medley of the 39th Junior National Aquatic Championships in 2012
- 100-meter breaststroke at the State Sub-junior and Junior Aquatics Championships in 2013
- 50 and 200-meter breaststroke at State Senior Aquatic Championship in 2014
- 50-meter breaststroke at the 41st Junior National Aquatic Championship in 2015
- 100, 200-meter breaststroke, and the 200-meter individual medley at the 42nd Junior National Aquatic Championship in 2015
- 4X 100-meter medley at the 72nd Senior National Aquatic Championship in 2018
- 50-meter freestyle, 50 and 100-meter breaststroke, 4×100-meter medley, and 4X100-meter freestyle at Khelo India Youth Games Under-21 age group in 2019
- 100-meter breaststroke at the 62nd Malaysia Open Swimming Championships in 2019
- 50, 100, 200-meter breaststroke and 4 X 100-meter individual medley at the 13th South Asian Games in 2019
- 200-meter breaststroke at the 73rd Senior National Aquatic Championships in 2019
- 200-meter breaststroke at Khelo India University Games in 2020
- 50, 100, 200-meter breaststroke, and 4 X 100-meter medley relay at the 75th Senior National Aquatic Championships in 2022
- 50, 100, 200-meter breaststroke, and 4 X 100-meter medley relay at the 36th National Games in 2022
- 50 and 100-meter breaststroke at 76th Senior National Aquatic Championships in 2023
- 200-meter medley at State Senior Aquatic Championship in 2014
- 200-meter breaststroke and 400-meter medley at the 70th Senior National Aquatic Championships in 2016
- 50 and 100-meter breaststroke at Uzbekistan Open Swimming Championships in 2021
- 50 and 100-meter breaststroke at the World School Games in 2012
- 100-meter breaststroke at the South African National Level 3 Swimming Championship Under-18 category in 2016
- 200-meter medley at the 70th Senior National Aquatic Championships in 2016
- 50 and 100-meter breaststroke at the 10th Asian Age Group Championships in 2019
- 200-meter breaststroke at Khelo India Youth Games Under-21 age group in 2019
Cheating at the 2019 All India Inter University Games
Likith participated in the All India Inter University Games held from 1 to 4 November 2019 at the Lovely Professional University (LPU), Jalandhar, Punjab. Allegedly, the time was being kept manually instead of the automatic touchpads, and the officials rigged the timings to declare the local athletes as winners. After witnessing such rampant cheating, many swimmers from other states started protesting against the officials and took to social media to complain about the practices being followed in the event. Likith also protested at the event by holding a poster on the starting block of a race that read,
I would prefer even to fail with honour than win by cheating. Let’s all swim fair, say no to cheating.”
Then-minister of state (MoS) (independent charge) youth affairs and sports, Kiren Rijiju, responded to the allegations by announcing an investigation into the event.
Manipulation at Uzbekistan Open Swimming Championships
In April 2021, Likith alleged that at the Uzbekistan Open Swimming Championships held from 13 to 17 April 2021 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, officials manipulated the timings in the 100-meter freestyle heats and 100-meter butterfly heats to help the local swimmers as the event was a qualification event for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. During the 200-meter breaststroke event on the final day of the tournament, he did not dive into the pool and stood on the diving block for over two minutes as a mark of protest.
While referring to the protest, he said,
I touched the pad and stopped my own time and asked the officials if it was the new world record to show them that what they were doing was wrong.”
Likith also alleged that he was offered a bribe by local officials to keep quiet about the issues. Uzbek swimmers Murat Sagdullaev and Yulduz Kuchkarova also helped him when he was struggling with mental health issues as he was called a liar due to his allegations; however, his parents and fellow players fully supported him.
The International Swimming Federation (FINA) later investigated the allegations and found them to be true following which they removed the event from the Olympic qualification events. In August 2023, FINA also banned the organisers of the 2021 event for five years. Likith said that the suspension was a win for athletes who work hard and said,
It is a vindication, a win for athletes, and a first step to clean up the system, because I’m sure many such illegal practices happen elsewhere too. When I look back, I never regretted what I did even if many were against me and said I didn’t have to be impulsive.”
This is a huge step for us athletes. Relieved to hear that the Court of Arbitration has taken the best decision. Thank you @fina1908 https://t.co/pKjwvL5UYd
— Likith Prema (@likithsp98) July 12, 2021
- Eklavya Award by the Karnataka Government in 2022
- Sports team: FC Barcelona
- Indian athlete: Milkha Singh
- In 2016, he was sponsored under the JSW Sports Excellence Program (SEP) which helped him with training and money for diets and accessories required for swimming. He was later sponsored by the GoSports Foundation where he was also included in the Rahul Dravid Athlete Mentorship Program.
- During the initial COVID-19 lockdown in July 2020, he auctioned off his short ‘FINA World Championship Carbon Flex VX’ which he wore during the World Championship 2019 held at Gwangju, South Korea to help the families of staff of the sports community.
- In an interview, Likith said that his father is his biggest influencer, and he learns something every day from him.
- He used to eat non-vegetarian food while growing up; however, in 2019, he became a vegetarian and became a vegan in the early 2020s to increase his speed.
- He aspires to become a poly sport athlete in different adventure sports.
- Likith is an AUST SWIM certified swimming trainer.
- He is a wildlife lover and has also visited noted American conservationist Paul Rosolie in the Amazon jungle.