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Saturday, May 12, 2018

Swimming The Palk Strait

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Mihir Sen (মিহির সেন) was a man of unusual talents and an accomplished marathon swimmer, inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.

His exploits and achievements were celebrated twice in his native India by two separate Prime Ministers. Sen was awarded two separate civilian honors: the Padma Shri in 1959 by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the Padma Bhushan in 1966 by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. He was the first Indian swimmer to cross the English Channel in 1958 and really put his mark on the open water swimming world in 1966.

That year in April, he swam across the Palk Strait from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) to Dhanushkodi, Tamil Nadu, India in 25 hours 36 minutes. In August, he crossed the Strait of Gibraltar in 8 hours 1 minutes. In September, he not only swam 45 miles (72 km) along the length of the Dardanelles in 13 hours 55 minutes, but 9 days later, swam 16 miles and 4 hours in the Bosphorus. Then, in October, he swam 50 miles along the length of the Panama Canal in a stage swim that took him from Cristobal in the Atlantic Ocean to Balboa in the Pacific Ocean in 34 hours 15 minutes.

He was a hero to many. Madhu Nagaraja recalls, "We had essays on Mihir Sen during my 4th or 5th grade classes and my mother had read me stories about Mihir in my youth."

Among the others who have swum in the Palk Strait between India and Sri Lanka include the following who had to get the approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Defence, the Navy, the Coast Guard, the High Commission of India in Colombo and the Ministry of Defence of Sri Lanka:

Palk Strait Solo Swimmers:
1954: Murugapillai Navratnaswami (Murugupillai Navaratnasamy) was the first person cross the Palk Strait from Valevettithurai, Sri Lanka to Point Calimere, India on his second 59 km attempt that took 26 hours 50 minutes.

1963: V.S. Kumar Anandan, newphew of Murugapillai Navratnaswami, crossed the Palk Strait from Valevettithurai, Sri Lanka to Point Calimere, India in 42 hours.

April 6th 1966: Mihir Sen crossed 59 km in the Palk Strait in 25 hours 44 minutes.

1974: V.S. Kumar Anandan completed an unprecedented two-way crossing from Talaimannar, Sri Lanka to Dhanushkodi, Tamil Nadu, India and then back to Talaimannar in 51 hours.

1980s: Tanarath Narayan Shenoy crossed the Palk Strait.

August 20th 2004: Bula Chowdhury Chakraborty crossed the Palk Strait from Talaimannar, Sri Lanka to Dhanushkodi, Tamil Nadu, India in 13 hours 52 minutes on an unprecedented course.

March 2nd 2011: Rajiv Trivedi crossed the Palk Strait in 12 hours 31 minutes, together in a tandem swim with Balasaheb Ramchandra Ghadge.

March 2nd 2011: Balasaheb Ramchandra Ghadge crossed the Palk Strait in 12 hours 31 minutes, together in a tandem swim with Rajiv Trivedi.

2012: S.P. Murleedharan crossed the Palk Strait from Talaimannar in Sri Lanka to Arichamunai, Dhanushkodi in India in 13 hours 53 minutes. "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."

Unknown date: C.P. Saravanavadivu from the Palk Strait.

March 24th 2018: Raja Eswara Prabhu crossed the Palk Strait from Talaimannar, Sri Lanka to Arichalmunai, Dhanushkodi, India in 11 hours 58 minutes.

March 25th 2018: M. Tulasi Chaitanya crossed the Palk Strait from Talaimannar, Sri Lanka to Arichalmunai, Dhanushkodi, India in 8 hours 25 minutes.

To report additional swims across the Palk Strait, please send information to headcoach@openwatersource.com.

Copyright © 2008-2018 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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