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Autistic Indian girl swims across Palk Strait, as Sri Lankan and Indian Navy provide security cover

Jiya Rai, the autistic daughter of a senior sailor of the Indian Navy, brought laurels to India by swimming across the Palk Strait from Talaimannar (Sri Lanka) to Dhanuskodi (India), a distance of 29 km, in 13 hours and 10 minutes

Col Anil Bhat (retd) Mar 23, 2022
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Autistic Indian girl swims across Palk Strait

Jiya Rai, the autistic daughter of a senior sailor of the Indian Navy, brought laurels to India by swimming across the Palk Strait from Talaimannar (Sri Lanka) to Dhanuskodi (India), a distance of 29 km, in 13 hours and 10 minutes.   

Jiya, nearly 14, suffering from what is medically called Autism Spectrum Disorder, achieved the feat on March 20, 2022, becoming in the process the youngest and fastest female swimmer in the world to swim across the Palk Strait, a strip of sea which divides India and Sri Lanka.  During her swim, the Sri Lankan Navy provided search-and-rescue cover in Sri Lankan waters while the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard provided similar support in Indian waters.

Autistic Indian girl swims across Palk Strait

Jiya is the daughter of Madan Rai of INS Kunjali, and a student of the Navy Children School, Mumbai.

 The record was earlier held by Indian Bula Chowdhary, who swam the distance in 13 hours and 52 minutes in 2004. 

The event was conducted by the Para Swimming Federation of India (PSFI) with cooperation from many agencies including the Swimming Federation of India, Sports Development Authority, Tamil Nadu, and the Autism Society of India. The Goa Shipyard Ltd provided the swimmer financial sponsorship for the event.

Recipient of many awards, including the prestigious Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Purashkar 2022 for budding sports prodigies, Jiya Rai is on a mission to swim in all oceans of the world. 

(SAM)

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