After swimming across 7 seas and 5 continents, Indian swimmer Bula Chowdhury has been swimming in compliments.
A popular long-distance swimmer, in 2005, at the age of 35, braving icy cold waters, she was the first woman to conquer sea channels in 5 continents. Clocking the 30 km distance in 3 hours and 26 minutes, Bula became the 1st Asian woman to swim the stretch in such a short time. Just a year before that, she also became the 1st woman in the world to cross the 7 seas when she swam across the Palk Straits from Talaimannar in Sri Lanka to Dhanushkodi in Tamil Nadu.
World records just did not happen to Bula out of the blue. A fighter by spirit and a passionate swimmer from a very young age, Bula powered her way to a string of medals and bagged 6 gold medals at the mere age of 9. This is when her family discovered her true potential and from here began Bula’s career in swimming with short distances.
For those who watched her swim in her early days, they often experienced grudging admiration, then incredulity and finally elation in exactly that order! She sure was a pronounced water baby!
A go-getter at heart, the boundaries of the swimming pool soon started falling short for Bula’s exponentially growing talent. She started dreaming of experiencing international waters and wanted to taste the glory and thrill they welcomed one with.
Determined to take her talent in swimming to the next level, Bula started long distance swimming in 1989, crossed the English Channel and won 6 gold medals in the 1991 South Asian Federation Games. In 1999, she crossed the English Channel again and there was just no looking back!
Even years after, some of her records at the national level are yet to be equaled. Bula, fondly called the ‘Queen of Seas’ is an Arjuna and Padma Shri award winner. She hoped that the award conferred on her would give adventure sports the recognition it deserves. She believes that someday swimming will get its rightful place under the sun!
After receiving all the possible honors for her exceptional achievements, she was then elected as MLA from 2006 – 2011 in West Bengal.
Bula’s name is written in golden words in the history of Indian swimming and she believes that her training to young aspirants is her gift to the next generation of swimmers!
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