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13 year old Mumbai autistic girl swims across Palk Strait, sets record

The swimming commenced at 4.22 am on Sunday from Talaimanar and concluded at Dhanushkodi at 5.32 pm.

Published: 21st March 2022 07:17 PM  |   Last Updated: 21st March 2022 07:17 PM   |  A+A-

Jiya Rai became the youngest and fastest female swimmer in the world to swim across the Palk Strait.

By Express News Service

KOCHI: A 13-year-old Maharashtra girl suffering from Autistic spectrum disorder has set a new record by swimming across the Palk Strait from Talaimannar in Sri Lanka to Dhanuskodi in Tamil Nadu, covering a distance of 29 km in 13 hours and 10 minutes on Sunday.

By achieving the feat, Jiya Rai, daughter of Master Chief of Arms of INS Kunjali, became the youngest and fastest female swimmer in the world to swim across the Palk Strait. The previous record was held with Bhula Chowdhary who covered the distance in 13 hours and 52 minutes in 2004. The swimming commenced at 4.22 am on Sunday from Talaimanar and concluded at Dhanushkodi at 5.32 pm. The event was conducted and guided by the Para-Swimming Federation of India (PSFI).

When Jiya was a little over two years old, she was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. A few months later her doctor noticed that her repetitive knocking could be purposely applied in water sport as therapy. This worked wonders as Jiya seemed comfortable and develop a passion for swimming. 

The Sri Lankan Navy provided the search and rescue (SAR) cover to Jiya while swimming in Lankan waters while the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard ensured her safety in Indian water. Goa Shipyard Ltd provided financial support for this event.

Jiya Rai was earlier bestowed the “Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Purashkar (PMRBP) - 2022 the highest honour given to citizens below 18 years. She is the youngest and the first autistic girl to Swim from Worli sea link to Gateway of India, covering a distance of 36 km in February 2021.

Jiya is the world record holder in the open water swimming. She is on a mission to become the first and youngest para swimmer in the world to swim seven oceans. In February 2021, Jiya became the youngest (12 years) and first girl with an autistic spectrum disorder to swim 36 km in 8 hours and 40 minutes from the Worli sea link to Gateway of India. In January 2021, Jiya became the first para swimmer to swim from Arnala Fort to Vasai Fort, covering a distance of 22 km in 7 hours and 04 minutes. In February 2020, Jiya became the first autistic spectrum disorder girl in the world to swim 14 km in 3 hours and 27 minutes from Elephanta Island to Gateway of India. Her name has been recorded in Asia Book of Records and India Book of Records. In March 2021, Jiya had won 3 Gold Medal in the Twentieth National para-swimming Championship-2020. She has won 24 Gold Medal and 1 Silver Medal in the National and State Swimming/Open Water Sea Swimming Championship.



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