Published: 29th September 2021
#ThrowbackToday: Meet the first Asian woman who swam across the English Channel
In today's #TBT, we introduce you to Arati Saha, the long-distance swimmer who became the first Asian woman to swim across this long stretch of the channel. Here's how it all went down
Do you know what the English Channel is? Known as one of the busiest shipping areas in the world, it is this stretch of the Atlantic Ocean that separates Southern England from Northern France. It is over 560 kilometres in length and varies in width. And it is across this mighty channel that Arati Saha swam on September 29, 1959, and became the first-ever Asian woman to do so.
Already a swimmer who even participated in the Olympics, Saha was also a long-distance swimmer. It was the first Asian to swim across the English Channel, Brojen Das, who inspired her to attempt the feat herself. In her very first attempt, she had to abort the mission when she was just three miles away from the coast of England due to strong currents.
Not the one to remain disheartened, Saha, who was born in Kolkata, waited for a month and attempted to swim across the stretch again. And this time, she was successful, taking 16 hours and 20 minutes to cover the distance of 67.5 km. She reached England and proudly hoisted our Indian tricolour flag there.
Saha was awarded the Padma Shri for this feat.