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Young Achiever: Sayani Das

EducationWorld January 2023 | Young Achiever
-Baishali Mukherjee (Kolkata)

Young Achiever: Sayani Das

Kalna (West Bengal)-based Sayani Das recently set a new record by becoming the first Asian woman to swim across the 43-km Molokai Channel which separates the islands of O’ahu and Molokai in Hawaii, USA. Sayani swam the channel which strong currents and gusty winds apart, is also the hunting ground of sharks, box jellyfish and assorted marine species, in a hard grind swimathon time of 18 hours on April 28 (2022). Since 1961, only 37 men and 26 women have swum the Molokai Channel.

This is only the latest of this 24-year-old Indian mermaid’s achievements. Others are complet­ing a 81-km swim down the River Ganga (2016); traversing the high waves and winds of the English Channel (24 km) in 14 hours (2017); crossing the 19.7-km Rottnest Channel off the coast of Western Australia (2018), and fording the 33-km Catalina Channel in Califor­nia (2019).

The younger daughter of Rad­heshyam Das, a retired headmaster of a government school, and home­maker Rupali Das, Sayani attributes her latest feat and mind-boggling swimathons to sustained parental support and a rigorous training regimen. “I am very grateful to my sponsors — the Kolkata-based SKM Group, Molokai Channel guide Terri Dietz and Dan Simonelli, founder of the Open Water Swimming Acad­emy USA,” she says.

It’s noteworthy that funding support for Sayani’s swimming ex­peditions which cost in the range of Rs.13-18 lakh per expedition, is contributed by sponsors, family friends, school teachers, and well-wishers in Kalna. For one of the initial expeditions, her father took a bank loan and even mortgaged their home. In 2018, Sayani was conferred the state govern­ment’s Khelashri special award which included a “helpful” cash prize of Rs.3 lakh.

Ever on the lookout for new seas to conquer, Say­ani has her sights set on four more testing open water stretches. “My dream is to be nominated for the Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame for which conquering the remaining four channels of the Oceans Seven Challenge is a pre-condition. They are: Ireland’s North Channel (34 km), Japan’s Tsugaru Channel (20 km), New Zealand’s Cook Strait (26 km) and Spain’s Strait of Gibral­tar (16 km). I intend to fulfill this dream,” says this golden mermaid.

Power to your strokes!

Also Read: Young Achievers: Abhinav Menon

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