World News

How Arati Saha became first Asian woman to cross English Channel

The Daily Star’s FREE newsletter is spectacular! Sign up today for the best stories straight to your inbox

Today, September 24, Google is celebrating the 80th birthday of Arati Saha with a colourful Doodle.

The Google Doodl e is illustrative by Kolkata native and guest artist Lavanya Naidu, and shows the trailblazing Indian swimmer in her element.

Saha’s claim to fame is being the first Asian woman to cross the English Channel.

On September 29, 1959, the swimmer covered the breathtaking 43 miles from Cape Gris Nez, France to Sandgate, England.

This is the route you can spot in today’s Doodle.

Born on September 24, 1940, Saha started swimming at the age of four – and by five she had already won a gold medal in 110 yards freestyle.

Saha made her first attempt at the Channel at just 18 years old on August 27 1959.

Five women from 23 countries took part in the competition at 1am local time.

Unfortunately, Saha’s pilot boat didn’t arrive on time, meaning she had to start 40 minutes late.

This meant she lost the favourable condition.

By 11am she had swum more than 40 miles, and came within five miles of the English coast.

  • Ignaz Semmelweis: How man who died 150 years ago is saving lives in coronavirus crisis

But by that time she met a very strong current from the opposite direction.

By 4pm she could only swim about two more miles, and while she was determined to carry on, she quit under pressure from her pilot.

Though her first attempt was unsuccessful, she never gave up on her goal.

  • Google celebrates Nkosi Johnson – the boy who Nelson Mandela called 'an icon'

Just one month later she managed to conquer the waves and currents to complete the historic journey.

She completed the swim in 16 hours and 20 minutes, battling tough waves and covering 42 miles to reach Sandgate.

In honour of her achievements, she became the first-ever female recipient of India’s Padma Shri award in 1960.

  • Google Doodle

Source: Read Full Article