13 Apr 2024  |   04:35am IST

Swimming the distance and changing perspectives

Around 18 Goan swimmers completed a 5.5 km swim from Hawaii Beach to Bambolim Beach, battling strong winds and huge waves and came out feeling good having completed the distance for the first time
Swimming the distance and changing perspectives

Ajit John

The experience of doing something for the first time can be quite disconcerting. It can be a life changing experience. For 18 swimmers, last Sunday it was an experience that left them happy and over the moon. They did something for the very first time. They all swam a distance they had never done before.

Indrajeet Khadilkar, one of the coaches behind this venture said it was quite an experience for the swimmers involved. The swimmers had to swim from Hawaii Beach to Bambolim. This was a distance of 5.5 kilometres. All the swimmers were doing it for the first time. He said they had never done the distance or anything like this before. They started swimming at 7 o’clock in the morning and everyone was done by 10 am. A kayak support was provided for every swimmer and in addition a safety boat moved around. 

Indrajeet said, “The sea was very choppy and rough. There were very strong undercurrents. It tested all the skills one possessed as a swimmer. On Sunday, there were 18 swimmers with swimmers between the age of 19 and 67 present.  We did the event over two days, March 24 and April 7. In total, we had around 34 swimmers.” He said this was the last swim of the year. When asked why this was the last swim of the year, Indrajeet said by next month the percentage of unpredictably would increase dramatically. The possibility of storms, cyclones, would make it difficult to plan ahead. Even if the storm or cyclone happened elsewhere, the effects could be felt here.

For Abhita Amonkar, a swimmer, it was an exciting experience. It was her first swim over such a long distance. In practice, she swam 2.5 to 3 kilometres. Swimming in the ocean was a different experience. She said she was told the water would be cool because that was the experience of the swimmers who had covered the distance earlier. She said, “When we reached the beach, it was windy and the water was choppy. The water was hitting our face. We were told it would be an easy swim. The coaches calmed our nerves. We started swimming. The final stretch was very hard. The first batch had it easy. The first swimmer completed the entire course in one hour 45 minutes. In this swim, the first swimmer completed the course in 2 hour 24 minutes. So you can imagine the conditions we were experiencing. I came in fifth. I will do it again for sure. It was an amazing experience. The coaches were brilliant. We had the confidence we could swim. I did not take any break.”    

Suresh Shirodkar who did the Iron Man last year decided to do the swim this year. He said it was a different kind of endurance to continuously swim. The encouragement of both the coaches, Indrajeet and Agnelo certainly helped. He said the support provided by the kayakers was invaluable. Suresh, who is 52 and works in the civil court as a government servant intends to do this again next year.

Then there was the doctor husband and wife duo of Harish Peshwe and his wife Aditi. For Harish it was a wonderful experience. He said he was initially quite tense but Indrajeet calmed everyone down. The currents he said were strong but it was a wonderful experience. Seeing the changing landscape from the sea was a wonderful experience. He said the help provided by the kayakers was excellent. He said as a doctor he was swimming for two years and it had changed his perspective. He said it was a credible experience for everyone involved. For his wife Aditi it was a great experience. She said she started off feeling some anxiety because of the distance and the fact the water was choppy. She said the coaching made everyone feel comfortable. She said it was the first time she had done such a distance but swimming as a skill was something she knew as a kid in the Class 3 or 4. She started swimming in the sea one and a half to two years ago. She said she loved swimming but was not aware of swimming in the sea and for that she thanked Indrajeet. She said she would do it again.

The group of swimmers attracted all types. From doctors to even retired principals. Allan Abreo who it can be said was the oldest swimmer in the group said it was a great experience and took the opportunity to congratulate both the coaches. He said it was a great opportunity to test his endurance.  He had been training for the Ironman. A retired principal of a college that trains teachers, he had a one week slot for swimming. The person who was meant to go swimming could not and recommended he go for it instead. There a person with a trained eye said he had very good form for swimming and suggested he meet Indrajeet. It was very meticulous training as he prepared for the Ironman. He was running, swimming and cycling. When it came to swimming he decided to give it a shot. 

The breeze was strong and the waves were huge. He said, “The coach kept saying glide, glide and glide. I was overtaken by several swimmers in the beginning but eventually I overtook all of them and came second. The kayaker Indrajeet did a fantastic job encouraging me and he guided me wonderfully.”

It was an experience for everyone involved and one can only hope there will be many more swimmers who take up this challenge in the years ahead. 


Idhar Udhar