Autistic Girl Sets Swimming Record, Qualifies For Summer Olympics

Jiya Rai

Jiya Rai, an 11-year-old autistic girl hailing from Mumbai, recently swam 14 kilometers, from Elephanta Island to Gateway of India, in record time. She was awarded a trophy and certificate for her breakthrough by Abhay Dadhe, Associate Vice President of Swimming Federation of India. While the state swimming body has set a time of 4 hours 21 minutes to cover that distance, Jiya reportedly swam it in 3 hours 27 minutes and 30 seconds—a good 55 minutes short of the time that had been set.

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Jiya’s father, Madan Rai, a naval sailor, told TOI, “She easily cleared the first one-hour at 5.40 am when it was dark. For the first hour, she did her best to move ahead. Beyond that, it was a cakewalk.” Her father also said that it was the happiest moment of his life when Jiya achieved the feat an hour before time, creating a world record.

While the state swimming body has set a time of 4 hours 21 minutes to cover that distance, Jiya reportedly swam it in 3 hours 27 minutes and 30 seconds.

The talented girl started swimming at the age of ten. As per her father, while her training started as therapy, it has now become her passion. “In 2010, doctors advised me to get my daughter into swimming. In 2013, Commandant Ashok Yadav at INHS Ashwini Hospital advised me to get my daughter trained in swimming. She took up the therapy in the right spirit and today she can communicate with us and fulfill her needs better,” said he.

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With the commendable accomplishment, she has become the youngest and first special-needs girl in the world to swim 14 km in record time. She has thus qualified for registration in the India Book of Records, Asia Book, and Limca Book of Record. Jiya is currently studying in class sixth at Naval Children School.

“The federation supports such kids and gives moral support to achieve big,” said Secretary of Maharashtra Swimming Federation, Kishore Shetty.

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Jiya’s next goal is the paralympic games to be held in Bengaluru in the month of March after that she will participate in 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo which will be held in the month of July.

Image Credit: Deccan Herald

Saavriti is an intern with SheThePeople.TV 

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