When 25-year-old Bhakti Sharma was swimming across the Antarctic Ocean, not knowing that she would set the record of becoming the youngest swimmer in the world, a penguin was her angel.
Sharma had swum 2.3 km at 1°C in just 41 minutes, beating the record of British open water swimming champion Lewis Pugh and American Lynne Cox by swimming in freezing Antarctica.
“She was like an angel of God, who brought a smile on my face even in that difficult situation. She gave me energy,” Sharma said here on Wednesday.
Bhakti, who was in town on Wednesday, has already swum across five oceans and is the only Indian to have done this. “I could see small and big icebergs moving. The water was not clear and it made my passage difficult and challenging,” she recalled. She also talked about her fear of leopard seals, which can eat even whales. “But the thought that I was making my country proud kept me going,” she said.
The place where she had swum was called the Paradise Harbour.
Bhakti, who swam Arctic Ocean in 2010, had been waiting for a sponsor for a long time. “I am really thankful to Hindustan Zinc for supporting me on the venture. They came forward to help me when I had almost given up on my dream,” she said.
Hindustan Zinc CEO Akhilesh Joshi said her achievement is a landmark success for the country. “We all are very proud of her. Hindustan Zinc is now associating her with our programmes, Khushi and Sakhi, and she will also provide training to young girls,” he added.
Bhakti so far has no immediate future plans. “My body needs rest. It has undergone immense pressure for generating heat and needs to be relaxed now,” she said.