HYDERABAD : It is rare for any individual to take to a physically gruelling sport after being all of 44 years. It is rarer for such late-starters to corner international glory, in less than four years since taking to the sport, as this bubbling 47-year-old.
Developing an unwavering passion for swimming came late for this wonder woman, but that did not dent her from going the entire stretch even as she chose long distance swimming. Braving obstacles and overcoming challenges are sort of ingrained in her mind. Not a bad achievement for someone who suffered from ‘aqua phobia’ all through her growing up years!
And the achiever is from Hyderabad. Meet Syamala Goli, the 47-year-old resident of Beeramguda, who is the toast of the fraternity following her epoch-making March 19 accomplishment. She became the first Telugu woman and only the second in the world to successfully swim across Palk Strait, the 30 kilometres stretch between Sri Lanka and India. She is only the 13th individual in the world to achieve this feat.
On March 19, at around 4:15 am, she started from Talaimannar in Sri Lanka and swam to Dhanushkodi in Tamil Nadu by 5.30 pm clocking 13 hours and 43 minutes. She named her expedition ‘India- Sri Lanka Friendship Swimming’, which was flagged-off by Captain Vikas Sood, Naval Attaché at the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka.” The major challenge I faced was after I crossed the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) as the open seas were very rough,” she recalls.
The mother of an engineering student, Syamala adds, “When I started, though the waters were choppy, the weather conditions, thankfully, were favourable. However, when I entered Indian waters, it became rough. Strong currents kept pushing me back.” Syamala, who swam freestyle, points out, “I had to battle through the tides and all I had in my mind was reaching the destination. This perseverance paid-off eventually.”
On the secret of her success, she says “focus”, almost point-blank. “I believe in my strengths and understand my weaknesses. When someone says you cannot do it, I don’t take it personally. Instead this spurs me on to pursue and achieve my goals,” she adds.
For Syamala, age is just a number. She says, “After I turned 40, I wanted to do something that would be challenging. I had aqua phobia as a child. To get over the fear, I started attending swimming classes. In a short while, I developed a passion for it.”
Syamala is quite an achiever for a participant in the master class segment. She has won gold three years on-the-trot (2019, 2020 and 2021) in Krishna River (1.5 km) in Vijayawada. She also won gold at Swimmethon (10 km) in Porbandar. She demonstrated her skills in Ganga River (13 km) in Patna, Hoogly River (14 km) in Kolkata, and in FINA World Masters Championship in Gwangju, South Korea.
She is a protégé of Ayush Yadav at SATS swimming pool in Gachibowli. Ayush has not just helped her hone her skills, but also works on her diet and nutrition. The swimmer runs a day care and pre-school and she says that her biggest sources of encouragement are husband Mohan Goli and son Pavan Viihari Goli.
She swam in Hooghly river, Kolkata and won gold at Swimmethon (10 km) in Porbandar.
She also demonstrated her skills in the Ganga (13 km) in Patna
— Tamanna S Mehdi email@example.com @tamannamehdi