“I was in Class 1 when swimming happened to me. It was simply a leisure exercise, done because I was overweight. This is when a coach saw me swim and told my mother that I should make a career out of it. In the beginning, I only swam because my parents wanted me to become a national champion. I started to enjoy my relationship with water only when I turned 10.
I have won around 100 medals doing something I really enjoy. I swim not to please others, but to constantly improve myself. It has helped me discover who I am and what my strengths and weaknesses are. Now, I set personal goals based on my capacity and this in turn helps me build self-confidence.
Everyone in my family wants me to excel at swimming and academics. Inspired by me, three of my cousins have also taken up swimming. Now that my board exams are here, academics have become my priority. Until my prelims, I balanced both academics and swimming by waking up early to study and swimming in the evenings. I spend at least three hours at the pool every day. I feel uncomfortable on the days that I don’t swim. But I have to skip swimming on examination days. I also don’t swim on the first day of my periods. I do swim the next day onwards. Contrary to popular opinion, it doesn’t hurt. In fact, it eases the pain. I feel that swimming is the best exercise during this time.
I’ve also formed good friendships with other swimmers. We motivate each other to swim better. Many of my swimmer friends eat meat, but I follow Jainism. My friends often joke about how eating animals could make me a better swimmer. With more than a hundred medals, I’m not concerned at all. My nutritionist understands my food choices and designs my meal plans accordingly. I’m deficient in B-12, so my coaches prefer that I go easy at the gym and not lift very heavy weights.
The only difficulties I encounter while swimming are my own mental blocks. So far, stress has been the main reason that I have not met my expectations. One of my new coaches is a psychologist. This is very helpful because she knows how to handle our stress. Even if I don’t end up taking up swimming as a career, I will continue to swim for leisure because I enjoy it immensely.”