Aarti was born on 24 September 1940 in a middle-class family in Kolkata. Aarti, who had lost her mother at the age of 2, was brought up by her grandmother. Aarti went to Bath in Champatala Ghat in North Kolkata and learned swimming there. Seeing Aarti’s interest in swimming, her father got her enrolled at Hatkhola Swimming Club.
Sachin Nag, who won the country’s first gold medal at the Asian Games at Hatkhola Swimming Club, saw Aarti’s talent and decided to train her.
Aarti’s swimming career started at the age of 5. At that time, Bengal was disintegrating due to religious violence and another Aarti was creating a new history. Aarti won her first gold medal in the 110-yard freestyle held at the Shailendra Memorial Swimming Competition in 1946.
After this, Aarti did not stop. Aarti won 22 medals in different state-level competitions. Aarti won 2 silver, 1 bronze in the 1948 National Championship in Mumbai.
The international journey of Aarti began in 1952. Aarti and Dolly Nazir represented the country at the Summer Olympics in Finland. There were only 4 women in the Indian squad and Aarti was the youngest. Aarti did not win any medal, but representing India at the age of 12 was nothing short of a big success.
According to a report, the English Channel separates South England and Northern France and connects the North Sea with the Atlantic Ocean. Due to its cold temperature and swimming difficulties, it is called ‘Mount Everest of Swimming’.
Inspired by many women and men who have crossed this channel, Aarti also decided to cross it. After rigorous training, Aarti left for England on 24 July 1959. The race was scheduled to take place on August 27, with the race stretching 42 miles from Cape Gris Nege in France to Sandgate, England. The race was attended by 58 participants from 23 countries, including 5 women.
Finally the day of competition has come. The pilot boat of Aarti did not arrive on time and they had to start the race 40 minutes late. Aarti had advanced only 5 miles from the coast that she faced dangerous weather.
After fighting for 6 hours with the flow of water, Aarti had to leave the race due to the pressure of the pilot. Aarti did not lose courage. Training again and made another attempt to defeat the English Channel. On September 29, 1959, Aarti took the second attempt. Aarti reached Sandgate after being hit by waves and strong currents for 16 hours, 20 minutes. Arriving at the shore, Aarti waved the tricolor.
Aarti not only got his success, but also illuminated the name of the country and made his name immortal in history.
In 1960, Aarti Saha was honored with the Padma Shri award. India Post also released a postage stamp in the year 1998 to inspire women from their lives.