11-year-old Swapnali Yadav, is the only Indian to-date to take part in the prestigious Kingdom Aquafest
Swimming is one sport which demands immense physical strength, dedication, a nutritious diet and passion. Passion, in fact, is the driving force that has led Swapnali to achieve so much so early in life. Says Swapnali, "I was only six years old when I took my first dip in the water along with my father. Swimming started off as a fun activity but it gradually turned into a hobby and it's now my passion. I really love it. My coach, Rajendra Palkar, enhanced my swimming skills."
After swimming for 30kms in the Messinikos Gulf in Greece, Swapnali, at the age of eight, became the youngest in the world and the only Indian to swim through the Gulf. This qualified her for the Limca Book of Records, 2008-2009. Indeed, it is unbelievable that someone so young can achieve this kind of success. She says, "I am blessed with supportive parents. My mother takes utmost care of my diet, helps me plan my day and is with me through the day. After school, she even helps me manage my homework and accompanies me for my late evening swimming sessions."
Swapnali's day starts at 5am with gymnastics, running and cycling, after which she goes to her school, Bombay Cambridge High School, where she attends classes till late afternoon. Her swimming sessions start at 8pm and go on for two hours, after which she begins her homework.
Sailee Yadav, Swapnali's mother adds, "Swapnali follows a tough routine and so it is very important that she gets the appropriate proteins and vitamins. I include a lot of milk products, dry fruits, fruits and fruit juice and fish in her diet. I make sure she doesn't have junk food as it is very unhealthy." Her school has also been very supportive and has always ensured that Swapnali gets all the notes whenever she is touring. Her principal Poonam Arora encourages and helps her to balance academics with tours.
Swapnali loves dancing, drawing and playing lawn tennis. She waits desperately for the weekends when she learns to play the piano. This newly discovered hobby de-stresses her.
Swapnali is coached by Rajendra 'Raju' Palkar, the only long-distance national coach recognised by the Swimming Federation of India.
- The POGO Amazing Kids Award in the sports category, 2009.
- Special Adventurous Award from the Sports and Youth Affair of Maharashtra, 2010.
- At 8 years 7 months, Swapnali became the youngest person ever to swim the Open World Swimming Marathon. With this, she joined an elite group of 16 swimmers from around the globe, between the ages of 22 and 49, to have competed in this event.
- During the marathon in Messinikos Gulf in Greece, the organisers had set a target of 12 hours to complete the marathon, but Swapnali completed the 30kms stretch in an impressive time of 11 hours and 10 minutes.
- Swapnali finished third in the 50mts breaststroke in the CBSE Zonal Swimming Championship that involved swimmers from Maharashtra, Goa and Gujarat.