Who is the latest swimmer to make India proud?
Sabyasachi Bagchi, Kolkata: India’s teenage sensation and Bengal’s pride Sayani Das today created history as she crossed the dangerous English Channel. The 19-year-old from East Satgachia, West Bengal completed the 34-kilometre trip this morning in fourteen hours and eight minutes. Sayani is a student of Srirampore College and is currently pursuing her graduation in History. The teenage girl has joined the club of swimmers like Mihir Sen, Arati Saha, Bula Chowdhury who were the top Bengali swimmers to cross the English channel. Mihir Sen was the first Indian and Bengali who crossed the channel in the year 1958. Next year Arati Sen too touched the feat but as the first Indian woman as well as Bengali to cross the channel. Bengal’s very own Bula Chowdhury crossed English Channel twice in her swimmining career in the year 1989 and 1999. She was the first woman who crossed the seven seas spread across five continents.
Sayani was a student of legendary swimmer Masudur Rahman Baidya, who passed away in 2015. While talking to www.xtratime.in correspondent Sabyasachi Bagchi from London, Sayani told that Masudur Rahman is still her idol.”Sir told me that you have to cross the English Channel as he couldn’t do it due to a major financial problem. I used to do my training at Ganga river for eight to ten hours daily under my coach Tamal Das and I am happy that my struggle has finally paid off. Now I just want to go back to my village.”
Sayani started her journey on 25th July at 1pm UK time and completed the feat today at 3.03am. The organizers had to take a special permission for her to swim in the afternoon as they weather was very poor in the evening. She also got some serious mental support of her father Radheshyam Das and coaches who had travelled with her to England. She had to swim from England to France in a pretty tough situation as the water was very cold there. She faced some trouble after completing her journey as there is a practice that whoever will cross the English Channel, they must have to climb a mountain there to click some images. But owing to a certain difference in temperature in the sea water compared to the temperature of the hill and if one doesn’t take proper precaution, there is a high possibility of a person to suffer cardiac arrest. The coaches gave Sayani a jacket to wear when she came out from water and when she was feeling a bit good they took her to the hill. She had to cover an extra 14 kilometers due to the current of the water and for some life threatening creatures.
The Sports Minister of West Bengal Shri Aroop Biswas and the local club named Sanghati Club of East Satgachia had helped her financially as they contribute almost 11 Lakh rupees to fulfill her dream.” The whole village had contributed for her to achieve the dream. Sayani’s father always wanted that her daughter to do something special in swimming and we are happy that she has made us proud,” said the club official Surajit Baxi. Sayani too called Surajit after reaching England today.
Legendary swimmer Bula Chowdhury too was happy with Sayani’s achievement,” I am very happy for her. Everyone don’t get this opportunity as it is a very expensive procedure and I am wishing her all the very best for future,” said Bula Chowdhury.
Sayani’s father Radheshyam Das was very happy too after her daughter’s feat.” We had spent many sleepless nights to see my daughter fulfilling her dream. I want to thank the state government as well as the villagers of East Satgachia who helped her to touch this feat. At one stage I was a bit tensed for her as she had life threat during the swimming. Though she is a bit weak right now but her health is all right. We will return to Kolkata ob July 28,” concluded Radheshyam Das.
After Sayani’s remarkable feat State Swimming Association’s President Ramanuj Mukherjee said,” Congratulations to Sayani for her unique success to cross English Channel from Dover, England to France coast with a timings of 14 hrs.08 minutes. Flag of by English Channel Swimming Association yesterday at about 1 pm. With the fullest cooperation from Boat officials she finally reached France coast. On behalf of the Bengal Amateur Swimming Association we congratulate entire team of Boat officials and also English Channel Swimming authority to grant her a special permission to start at 1 pm. It is a unique decision due to rough weather condition prevailing for the last one week. We also thank her Swimming Coach for his untering efforts to coach her for her today’s success. We also put on record our gratitude to the Sports department, Govt.of West Bengal and Bengal Olympic Association for their help cooperation and guidance. We also put on record to Sri Pappu Singh for unique financial help for her today’s success.”
The State Swimming Association will felicitate Sayani on July 28 at the Airport and they will organize a grand felicitation next week at Calcutta Sports Journalist Club.