Breaking barriers & making waves at 76

“I am 76-year-old and can still swim at least 1 km every day,” says Vijayasree, whose accomplishments extend beyond the domains of swimming and yoga
Golla Vijayasree Gupta
Golla Vijayasree Gupta

VIJAYAWADA : Golla Vijayasree Gupta, a 76-year-old from Vijayawada, has been making waves globally in veteran swimming competitions, earning numerous accolades. Remarkably, Vijayasree learned to swim at the age of 40, and since then, she has been a beacon of inspiration, showcasing not just her swimming prowess but also her yoga skills by performing Asanas on water.

A Madras University graduate and mother of three, Vijayasree embarked on her swimming journey in 1999 while accompanying her youngest daughter to swimming lessons. Initially keeping her passion a secret, she eventually garnered the support of her family. “It was a big task to find a trainer for adults as there were no instructors available,” she shared with TNIE. Despite facing health issues, she persevered and continued to improve her skills.

At 52, with her family’s encouragement, she donned a swimming suit and began practising rigorously. Her dedication paid off when she started competing in national-level events in the 45-50 age group. In 2007, she won three gold medals at the New Jersey Senior Olympic Championship, marking the beginning of a series of triumphs.

Over her career, Vijayasree has bagged 100 medals in international competitions, competing in countries such as the USA and Singapore, and across various Indian States including Gujarat, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. Most recently, in May 2024, she participated in the Pan India Masters Cup in Secunderabad, winning four gold and one silver medal.

Her accomplishments extend beyond the pool. As a noted female entrepreneur and social activist, she has hosted programmes like Yuva Vani and Vanitha Vani on All India Radio (AIR), Vijayawada, for about 13 years. In 2016, she received the ‘Visishta Mahila Puraskaar’ from the then Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu.

In 2023, Vijayasree was honoured with the ‘Legendary Mahila Puraskar’ by the Telugu Tejam organisation in Hyderabad, as part of the centenary celebrations of former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao. Recently, she received the Hyderabad Limelight Awards for Women 2024 from Panchayat Raj Minister Dansari Anasuya (Seetakka). The Andhra Mahila Sabha in Chennai recognised her contributions to swimming by bestowing upon her the ‘Iconic Swimmer’ award.

Vijayasree values the recognition she has received for her swimming achievements above all else. As a trustee of Golla’s Educational and Research Trust, she has supported many students with their medical and educational needs. “I am 76 years old and still swim at least one kilometre every day. I believe women can achieve any tough goal regardless of age with effort. I still go to competitions with the same enthusiasm and look younger due to constant practice,” she said.

She attributes her success to her husband, noted businessman and past Rotary Assistant Governor Hanuman Gupta, and her daughters Harshada, Samjatha, and Vidushi. Vijayasree encourages parents not to confine their daughters to traditional roles but to support their interests.

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