By Devanshi Thakkar
A 47-year old Indian, Syamala Goli, became the second woman and 13th person to swim across the Palk Strait when she reached Dhanushkodi in South India after leaving Talaimannar yesterday March 19.
An athlete and entrepreneur, Goli has called the swim an “Indo-Lanka friendship event,” and this is the second time she has completed a 30 km open water swim.
She swam for 13 hours and 43 minutes from Talaimannar in northern Sri Lanka to Dhanushkodi in India to create the record.
Her swimming journey began a few years ago after she decided to overcome her aquaphobia. Mother of an engineering graduate son, Shyamala runs a play school in Hyderabad. After successfully completing the mission an elated Shyamala said that the experience was unforgettable for several reasons.
“Sri Lankan water was calm and I could swim easily. The Indian water was choppy. The last five miles were really tough. That’s why it took 90 minutes extra time to cover the 30-mile sea which divides India and Sri Lanka”
Talking about her inspiration, Shyamala stated that TRS leader Kalvakuntla Kavitha is her role model and said, “Kavitha has encouraged me a lot. I am from a lower-middle-class background. She has helped me even financially to realise my dreams. I am always indebted to her.”
Shyamala was trained and guided for this sea-swimming event by senior IPS officer Rajiv Trivedi who has also swam the Palk Strait in the past. Considering that Syamala learnt swimming just four years back, her successful effort and the timing are creditable.
Indian Swimming Federation had sent an observer with her to verify and certify her swimming expedition. She was bowled over by the hospitality and the support extended by the Sri Lankan Navy and Coast guard.
“Sri Lankan Navy and Coast guard personnel were awesome. They were too kind and generous”, she added.