The 19 km All India Swimming Marathon is annually held in River Bhagirathi in Murshidabad, West Bengal.
15-year-old Tejas Sakaran and 16-year-old Varada Dharmadhikari faced a decision to either swim or continue studying for their all-important school board exam which decides their career. Their schools were reluctant to grant them concession. They were joined by their teammate, 20-year-old engineering student Sayali Pendharkar.
The 19 km race is conducted in conjunction with the 81 km India National Open Water Swimming Competition where 25 swimmers from all over India and Bangladesh took part. The event draws thousands of admiring spectators to the shoreline where the athletes are surrounded by well-wishers before and after the race. After months of preparation, the adulation showered upon the swimmers always provided an adrenalin-filled boost.
Varada completed the race in 2 hours 39 minutes to finish seventh position. Sayali, who has finished the 81 km race twice and the 19 km five times earlier, finished win 10th position with a 2 hour 45 minute effort just ahead of her younger teammate Tejas who completed the stretch in 2 hours 49 minutes.
Their efforts were a remarkable example of their resolve and their passion for swimming. They must balance training, travel and education in a pressure-packed environment that is rare among their American counterparts. Sayali and Varada both travel 40 km a day between their school and training while Tejas commutes 160 km every weekend to train with her teammates. With their family’s support, their coach’s understanding, and their school’s approval, they manage their workload and pressure well enough to make marathon swimming a part of their busy lives.
Report provided by Coach Jitendra Khasnis of India.
Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source
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