Feisty 60-yr-old swimmer to take on the open sea

When people turn 60, most would like to sit at home, watch TV or just spend time reading books. Not Swapna Wani. The resident of Ghodbunder Road in Thane is preparing for the open sea swimming competition organised by the Indian Navy. Wani, who was born in 1953, is the oldest woman from Mumbai to participate. 

Wani developed her love for the sport at the age of 35. While taking her elder son Mayur, who was then in Std VI, to swimming lessons, she too felt like joining in and duly did so. She has continued swimming to this very day, with 74 medals -- gold, silver and bronze -- to her credit in swimming competitions across the country. Some of those places include Indore, Kerala, Ahmednagar, Nashik and Pune. She won three gold medals on October 31 at the 10th National Master’s Aquatic Championship -- grabbing pole position in 200 metres (individual medley), 200 metres (freestyle) and 200 metres (butterfly).

All in a day’s work
She says, “I wake up at 4 am every day to cook food for my younger son Mayank and husband Prakash who go for work in the morning. After they leave, I clean up the kitchen, finish my chores and leave home to teach swimming at two residential societies in Hiranandani Meadows in Thane.” She says both her sons and her husband have always been supportive and swimming has helped her stay fit and agile. “Before the age of 35, I used to have knee problems. The doctor suggested I go through surgery. But after swimming, I no longer have any issues with my knee. It can really cure ailments,” she explained. 

Sea this: Swapna Wani displays her medals. The 60-year-old has swum only once before in the sea, at Bournemouth in UK.  Pic/Sameer Markande

Family sport
The enthusiasm runs in the family. Her elder son has started teaching his son, her grandson, swimming at the tender age of 7 months. Everyone in the family can swim, but only Swapna does it professionally. Since the day she got to know of the Navy’s competition, she started practising in two-hour sessions at the pool every day. “I will be swimming in the 50 years and above category. I swam in the sea only once in my life at Bournemouth in UK. The water there was very clean and I loved swimming there. Though here, one can’t imagine going into the sea with the dirty waters, the place at Colaba, where the competition is going to be held, seems to be clean. I am happy and also nervous because in the sea, there are waves that come and hit you. It will be a different experience.” The race begins at 6 am on November 23. Wani will be there at the scheduled reporting time of 5 am, ready to test the waters, literally.

Number of medals she has won so far in various swimming competitions across the country  

Please click the image above for a larger view

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