17-year-old Sampanna Shelar from Pune swims his way into history books, crosses Bangla Channel twice in a day
He completed the 32.2km-long expedition in nine hours and 10 minutes and became the first man to cross the Bangla Channel twice in a day.pune Updated: Apr 16, 2018 14:54 IST
A 17-year-old swimmer from Pune, Sampanna Shelar, on March 30, swam to and fro from St Martin's Island to Teknaf Jetty in Bangladesh. He completed the 32.2km-long expedition (St Martin's Island to Teknaf Jetty to St Martin's Island) in nine hours and 10 minutes and became the first man to cross Bangla Channel twice in a day.
As per the Swim Bangla Channel Authority, Sampanna is the first swimmer in the world to achieve this feat. Earlier, several swimmers had completed the distance one-way, but had not attempted to swim two-way.
Sampanna started his challenge on March 30 and initially gained good speed. However, after 5km, he couldn’t continue his pace. Strong winds posed as a hindrance to the swimmer and his schedule was delayed by one and a half hours.
After reaching Teknaf Jetty, he took a small break and resumed his journey to St Martin's Island. On his return journey, he maintained a consistent speed and finished the expedition relatively easily.
After finishing his onward feat, he took a nine-minute break for food and medical checkup before continuing. According to the Channel Swimming Association, a swimmer is allowed to stand up or sit for up to 10 minutes before continuing but “cannot be touched by any person, but may be handed food, grease, medicines or swimming apparel to be administered by himself. He must then, in agreement with the Observer, make the most direct and reasonable way towards water deep enough in which to swim, and commence swimming. The time spent before the return swim starts shall be added to the time of the subsequent crossing”.
“There are several other swimmers who had completed the swim one-way. But we wanted to do something different. From now on, we will try every swimming expedition two-way. It’s more difficult and challenging,” said his coach Jitendra Khasnis.
“This was my first expedition in international waters and I observed the presence of several big fishes. I was a little worried and asked my coach to keep a boat near me at all times. Later, the strong winds and high tide proved tough to face and left me exhausted. I was determined to finish the expedition and jumped back in the water and managed to finish the distance,” said Sampanna.
Sampanna is Class 11 student at Sinhagad College and trains at Shark Aquatic Club in Ghorpade peth. He is a national-level swimmer in the short-distance format. His elder sister Nidhi Shelar is also a long-distance swimmer and holds several records.
For this expedition, Sampanna trained hard for two months, practicing for five hours daily and eight hours on weekends.“The strength training in gym and regular practice helped me in the crucial period when I was totally exhausted,” said Sampanna.The swimmer is now aiming to win a title in the 81km long-distance swimming competition to be held in Bhagirathi river in West Bengal later this year.