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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Swimming Across The Palk Strait

Palk Strait (Tamil:பாக் சலசந்தி) is a relatively shallow strait between the Tamil Nadu state of India and the Mannar district of the island nation of Sri Lanka.

The Palk Strait connects the Bay of Bengal in the northeast with the Palk Bay. Swimmers generally attempt to swim between the two closest points between these two long peninsulas. At its southern end, there are a chain of low-lying islands and reef shoals that are called Adam's Bridge where the water can be a little more than 1 meter in depth at high tide.

Sand bars appear and disappear with regularity as do sharks. The strait is 33 (53 80 km) wide at its narrowest point. The strait is named after Robert Palk, who was a governor of Madras Presidency (1755-1763) during the Company Raj period.

If there is an equivalent of the English Channel in India and Sri Lanka, the Palk Strait is it. There have been 9 documented crossings of the 33-mile channel:

1. Murugapillai Navratnaswami (or spelled Murugupillai Navaratnasamy shown above) was the first person to swim the Palk Strait in 1954 when he took 26 hours 50 minutes to pioneer the swim from Valvettithurai (VVT) to Point Calimere on his second attempt.

2. V.S. Kumar Anandan, newphew of Murugapillai Navratnaswami, completed a swim from VVT to Point Calimere in 1963 that took 42 hours.

3. V.S. Kumar Anandan followed up his initial crossing with a two-way swim in 1974 in 51 hours.

4. Mihir Sen, an International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer, crossed in 1966 in 25 hours 44 minutes.

5. Tanarath Narayan Shenoy, a blind-deaf-mute International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer, crossed in the 1980's.

6. Bula Chowdhury Chakraborty, who also crossed the English Channel twice, the Catalina Channel, the Strait of Gibraltar and the Cook Strait, crossed in 2004 in 13 hours 52 minutes.

7. Rajiv Trivedi crossed in 2011 in 12 hours 31 minutes.

8. Balasaheb Ramchandra Ghadge crossed in 2011 together with Trivedi in 12 hours 31 minutes.

9. S.P. Murleedharan crossed in 13 hours 53 minutes in 2012. "As an Indian I feel proud to cross Palk Strait from Sri Lanka to India. The conditions were extremely tough for swimming. The sea, pleasant in the initial stage, turned very rough. It forced me to swim against the strong wind and choppy sea."

10. C.P. Saravanavadivu

Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association


  1. you are missing c.p.saravanavadivu

  2. The name of Kurush.Contractor is missing from the list.He is a ex-alumni of "Christ Church School" in Mumbai and his record for the fastest swim across the Straits stood for many years.He is today a millionaire entrepreneur/owner of a offshore diving company "Kreuz Holdings Limited" based in Singapore. How come his name is not mentioned in this list ?

  3. Please tell us about Kurush. When did he swim? What was the date? What was his time? What direction did he swim? How old was he? What other marathon swims did he do during his career? Thank you very much for this information.

  4. We do not know about kutraleeswaran or c.p.saravanavadivu or Kurush. Please tell us the date that he swam, the direction, the date, his age or his official time if possible. Any other information or data about their swims or their swimming careers are greatly appreciated. You can email the information to headcoach@openwatersource.com. Thank you very much in advance.


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