India: Autistic teen swims from Sri Lanka to India in 13 hours

The Sri Lankan Navy and Coast Guard and the Indian Navy and Coast Guard provided escort



Representational image
Representational image

Published: Tue 22 Mar 2022, 9:38 AM

The 13-year-old autistic daughter of a Mumbai naval officer swam from Sri Lanka to India in 13 hours and 10 minutes.

Jiya Rai swam from Talaimannar in Sri Lanka to Dhanushkodi in Tamil Nadu, India and covered a distance of 29 kilometres.

Strong sea currents and wind, triggered by the cyclone near the Andamans, delayed her swim. She began her journey a little after 4am and reached Dhanushkodi by 5.30pm on Sunday.

“The sea is filled with sea snakes, milk sharks and jellyfish,” said Sailendra Babu, the director-general of Tamil Nadu police, who swam through the rough waters with his team, recently. “You can’t predict the current in these waters and Jiya Rai still swam through it.”

Madan Rai, the girl’s father, said that last February Jiya swam the 36km distance between Bandra-Worli Sealink and the Gateway of India in Mumbai in about 8 hours and 40 minutes becoming the youngest and first, special child with autism to do so.

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She was awarded the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar award, the highest honour for a citizen below 18. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also made a special mention of her feat in his Mann ki Baat programme.

Jiya has also won 24 gold medals in national and state swimming and open water sea swimming contests.

The Sri Lankan Navy and Coast Guard and the Indian Navy and Coast Guard provided escort and support to the young swimmer during her 13-hour journey.


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