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Teenage Indian swimmer Maana Patel aims for Rio Olympics berth

15-year-old swimmer Maana Patel, who holds three National records in backstroke — 50m, 100m & 200m, hopes to make cut for next year's Olympics

At an age where most teens spend a lot of their time hanging out with friends watching movies or watching the latest TV shows, 15-year-old Maana Patel is a misnomer.

Maana Patel
Maana Patel

But the Ahmedabad girl is not like most teens. At 15, she holds three National records in backstroke to her name (50m, 100m and 200m). These records have come at the cost of many things Maana and her family has had to forego over the last five years.

"Maana hardly gets time to spend with her friends. She used to like playing music — she played the piano and keyboards. However, she has now put that on hold until she finishes her swimming career.

Sacrifices
"She has had the same hectic schedule (see box) ever since she started swimming seriously. In fact, our last family trip was back in 2010 (to Singapore)," revealed Maana's mother Aanal. Aanal added that her daughter doesn't like movies and hardly ever watches TV. Until 2013, Maana nursed ambitions to be an architect.

However, she gave up on that to become a swimmer. "I never wanted to give up on studies. I scored 90 per cent in Class X last year. Before my exams, I had just one month to prepare as for almost seven months, I was out of town. "Till 2013, I wanted to become an architect. But then I realised that juggling science and swimming is not possible," she told mid-day yesterday.

Cost factor
The monetary toll of being a competitive swimmer is also quite high. With a professional swim suit (one which can be worn only for four to five races) costing nearly Rs 30,000 and monthly protein supplements costing nearly Rs 12 to 15 thousands, the Patels spend nearly Rs 8-10 lakh every year on Maana's career.

Some of that cost will now be taken care of by Olympic Gold Quest, which took her under their wing in February. While OGQ has pegged Maana as one for the future, the 15-year-old has set her sights on winning a berth for next year's Rio Olympics. "I'm targeting a place in the Rio Olympics. It has been my dream ever since I started swimming.

"My current timing in 100m backstroke is 1:05.00 secs. I have to drop three seconds in 100m backstroke to make the cut for Rio. 50m event is not there and the 200m event is quite hard," she signed off.

10lakh
Family's average annual expenditure on Maana's career

Maana's daily schedule...

4:45am: Wake up
5:15 to 7:30am: Swimming session
10:30am: Off to School
3:00 to 5:30pm: Swimming session
5:30 to 9:00pm: Gym and tuitions
10pm: Off to bed

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