Bakulaben Patel: 80-Year-Old Surat Swimmer Is Aiming For World Record

Bakulaben Patel is an 80-year-old swimmer from Gujarat making international headlines for her resilience and determination. She hopes to one day be a Guinness World Record holder and swim the English Channel.

Tanya Savkoor
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Swimmer Bakulaben Patel has received several awards | Left: BBC World News, Right: Ahmedabad Mirror

"I believe there is no certain age to learn or do something new," expressed Bakulaben Patel, an 80-year-old swimmer from Surat, Gujarat, whose passion for the sport defies conventional expectations. Having taken up swimming just about 20 years ago, she now inspires others by demonstrating that age is no barrier to pursuing new skills and hobbies. She boasts over 500 awards for swimming, a testament to her indomitable spirit and dedication to her craft. She recently told the international news outlet BBC about the adventures she set out on much later than the traditional course of life, showcasing an unparalleled thrill for life. 


Beyond just the calm waters of the Tapi River in her town, Rander, Patel has participated in swimming meets in various environments across the world, including the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Pacific Ocean.

From Fearing Water To Being Awarded For Swimming

Bakulaben Patel told BBC that she was once afraid of the water and avoided learning to swim all her life. However, when she was 58 years old, she set out on a new journey, exploring different athletic endeavours.

She decided to let go of her fears and take up swimming. "I asked myself 'How long am I to keep running away from swimming?' and that was when I made the stern decision to finally learn the skill," Patel told BBC.

Patel learnt to swim in the Tapi River, where she continues to go for her regular practice. Her daily routine involves waking up early, jogging to the river, and doing stretches at the bank before diving in.


The 80-year-old swims for about 100 metres a day, she told BBC. She has also instructed over 400 swimmers in her life and hopes to continue and hopes to continue encouraging more people into the sport.

Taking on more challenging waters worldwide, Bakulaben Patel has won a plethora of medals and certificates. Patel told the outlet that the most difficult was her swim in the Canadian Sea, where she resiliently swam twice.

Patel reflects an unstoppable aura that keeps her pushing to achieve more. She said that she hopes to conquer the English Channel one day and also aims to set a Guinness World Record in swimming.

bakulaben patel
Image: Desi Blitz

Not just swimming, Bakulaben Patel also debuted as a Bharatnatyam dancer at the age of 75. She made headlines for being one of the oldest persons to learn and perform the Arangetram. Patel has been felicitated as a dancer too. 

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