Since the year 1896, Swimming is one of the primary five unique games to have been included in every release of the present day Olympics. Offering the second most significant number of opportunities after Athletics, Indian swimmers have bagged many records in both male and female categories. The integral governing apex for promotion and administration of the swimming in India is the Swimming Federation of India (SFI). However, in recent times Swimming in India faces an unfortunate scenario wherein there is a shortage of financial aids that young and talented athletes face leading to a diminishing value of their talent.
Top 10 Acclaimed Indian Swimmers:
Starting with one of the best indian swimmers of all time Arati Gupta née Saha. Saha was an Indian long-distance swimmer born in Calcutta, West Bengal in British India on the 24th of September 1940. She started swimming at the young age of four and it was in those days that her talent was first spotted. Her inspiration was Indian swimmer Mihir Sen who tried to cross the English Channel. She became the first Asian woman to swim across the English Channel in the year 1959. In 1960, she became the first Indian female sportsperson to be awarded Padma Shri. Arati passed away on 23rd August 1994.
Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arati_Saha
Next in the line of Indian swimmers is Bhakti Sharma who was born on 30th November in the year 1989 and is an Indian Open water swimmer. She is the first Asian woman in the world and the youngest to set a record in open swimming in the Antarctic waters. Sharma managed to swim 1.4 miles (2.3 km) in 41.14 minutes, at a temperature of 1 °C (34 °F). Bhakti broke the record of Lynne Cox (USA) and Lewis Pugh (Great Britain) and has swum in all the five oceans of the world. She has also swum in the eight other seas and channels. She is a recipient of the Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award.
Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhakti_Sharma
Bharat Kumar is a commendable world swimming champion who has made Bharat (India) proud by conquering over 50 medals in the para-swimming contest. He is a native of Haryana in India that is a hometown to tonnes of Indian sportspersons and Indian swimmers. Born on December 10, 1989, he had a disability in his right hand. Unfortunately, Bharat’s contribution in making India proud has been ignored by the sports and government federation. Today, he is forced to wash cars to make both his ends meet. His condition has worsened to the extreme where he might have to sell his hard-won medals to survive. Bharat’s next aim is to participate in the upcoming Asian Games and Olympics, to make his country proud.
C.N Janaki was affected by polio at the young age of two that unfortunately rendered her legs useless. Because of that she learnt to swim at the age of 30. Four years of hardcore training in the Bangalore city along with another in the Arabian Sea under a National Institute of Sports coach paid off and she gradually transformed herself to be the first disabled person to swim the English Channel in 1992. Her initial ambition had been to simply go solo. However, the English Channel Swimming Association did not accept her repeated requests to allow her the opportunity. She was coached to achieve her endeavours by a popular Channel coach by the name Stella Streeter. According to her coach, Janaki was one of the bravest Indian swimmers she’d ever met. Also, she is the recipient of Eklavya award.
Murlikant Petkar is India’s very first Paralympic gold medalist and has bagged 4 medals in swimming till date.. Considered as one of the most prominent Indian swimmers he has managed to set a world record in the 50 m freestyle swimming event, at 37.33 seconds. In a similar manner, he has also participated in the javelin, precision javelin throw and slalom skiing. He won an individual gold medal in the year 1972 Summer Paralympics that was held in Heidelberg, Germany and was declared a finalist in all of the three events. Murlikant served as a jawan in the Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME) Corps in the Indian Army. Post his accident in the 1965 Indo-Pak war, that left him crippled, he switched to swimming and also participated in various other sports.
Sajan Prakash is an Indian swimmer who was born on 14th September 1993. He contended in the men’s Freestyle, butterfly and hand-off occasions at the 2015 National Games held in Kerala. . Prakash succeeded in making history on the 8th of February 2015 by winning 6 gold and 3 Silver awards. Thus, he turned into the best competitor of the Indian National Games, held at Trivandrum, Kerala. He also represented India at the 2016 Rio Olympic amusements in 200 Meter butterfly race. Also known as India’s ‘Michael Phelps’ by swimming fraternity. He is currently working with the Indian Railways in Bangalore.
Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sajan_Prakash
Sandeep Sejwal is an Indian swimmer who was born on 23rd January 1989 in Delhi. Sejwal contested in the men’s 100 m and 200 m breaststroke events at the 2010 Asian Juniors held in Beijing, China. Though he failed to reach the finals in both of the events, he won the Bronze medal in 2014 Asian games in 50m breaststroke making India proud. He is a National Record-holder in the 50 m, 100 m and 200 m Breaststroke events and has won silver medals at the Asian Indoor Games, 2007 in the 50 m and 100 m Breaststroke events as well.
Shamsher Khan, born in 1933, was the first Indian Olympian Swimmer who represented India in the 1956 Summer Olympics. In the year 1954, he made a national record in the 200-meter butterfly event. Shamsher Khan was the first to break the existing national record at the national meet in Bangalore city in the year 1955. Interestingly, Shamsher Khan was in the Indian Army and participated in the Indo-China war in the year 1962 and had also fought in the 1971 war. After his successful achievement in both the army and swimming, he retired from the Indian Army in the year 1973 from the Subedar rank. The legend died on 15th October, 2017.
Shikha Tandon (born on January 20, 1985) is a champion swimmer who hails from Bangalore city in India. Tandon has managed to win 146 national awards, and 36 decorations in worldwide rivalries.These accolades include five gold medals as well. At the 2004 Athens Olympics, Tandon competed in both the 50 m and the 100 m freestyle, the first Indian swimmer to qualify for two separate events in an Olympic competition.
She is the first woman to hold 7 national records simultaneously and is also an Arjuna award winner. First Indian woman to be employed at USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency).
Born on September 27, 1997, Shivani Kataria hails from Gurugram, in Haryana, India. She has many national records and has participated in the Commonwealth Games. Shivani has also won a gold medal at the 2016 South Asian Games. In 2015, she trained for an year at the FINA camp in Phuket, Thailand. She was selected for the Rio Olympics by the Swimming Federation of India (SFI) making her the first Indian woman to swim in the Summer Olympics after 2004 in Athens, Greece.
Here are a few honorable mentions:
Born in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, Virdhawal represented India in 2008 Beijing Olympics where he competed in the men’s 50 m, 100 m and 200 m Freestyle swimming events setting an Indian national record in 100 m Freestyle but couldn’t qualify in the further rounds. After 24 years, India got a medal in 50m butterfly category, all thanks to Virdhawal.
Karnataka born Rehan Poncha is our second honorable mention. Poncha is a five-time national champion and also an Arjuna Award winner. He is also a recipient of Eklavya award.
Another swimming gem from Bengaluru, Karnataka, Nisha has represented India at the 1998 Asian Games (Thailand), World Championships (Perth 1999, Indianapolis 2004) and won medals for the country at both the Afro-Asian Games and SAF Games. Being an Arjuna award winner as well as Eklavya award winner, she was the only swimmer from India to represent the country in 2000 Sydney Olympics. Currently, she runs her own swimming academy Nisha Millet Swimming Academy which is one of the best swimming classes in Bangalore.
Not satisfied with the list, you can always comment and submit your reviews below and we will add it to the list 🙂