Tuesday, August 17, 2010

`It was five degrees in Arctic Ocean' - SETTING NEW RECORDS

For this young swimmer, breaking records seems to be a habit. On August 9, Bhakti Sharma (20) from Udaipur became the second female swimmer in the world to swim across the Arctic Ocean.

Earlier, Bhakti also swam across the Indian Ocean in 2004, English Channel in 2006, Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, the Mediterranean Sea in 2007, and the English Channel in 2008 with her mother Leena Sharma (44). They broke a world record by becoming the first mother-daughter duo to cross the English Channel.

"It was five degrees Celsius when I swam in the Arctic, the water was near freezing point and I knew, if I managed to swim beyond 30 minutes, it would be commendable. After coming out of the water, my body was numb and I couldn't move my fingers. I was also swimming with killer whales, jelly fishes and star fishes,'' says Bhakti, who was in the city on Monday. "To prepare myself, I poured 12,500 kg of ice in a pool at Udaipur and swam at a temperature of four degrees in February.''

Despite facing obstacles, Bhakti is keen to continue swimming in future. "We later plan to swim across the Antarctic Ocean. For that, we require our own boat, a lot of funding and our own team of specialists,'' says her mother.

"We were only sponsored once-by the Vedanta group-when I swam across the Mediterranean Sea. When we approach sponsors, they are often reluctant,'' adds Bhakti, recalling how hard it was for her to get funding.

The lack of infrastructure and funds, the hectic life of an athlete and the indifference of the government are some of the impediments in a swimmer's career. However, Bhakti is lucky to have received tremendous support from her family.

"My mother was my coach. She quit her job at the Bank of India to concentrate on me and my younger brother Shlok's (9) swimming career. She has been coaching me since I was two-and-a-half years old. It was my mother who encouraged me to swim across the seas,'' said Bhakti. According to Bhakti, her mother did research on how to approach organisations that planned swims across seas, the various routes and she even accompanied her everywhere on her arduous journey.

Read more: `It was five degrees in Arctic Ocean' - Mumbai - City - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/It-was-five-degrees-in-Arctic-Ocean/articleshow/6322056.cms#ixzz0wrvzGaBv

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