Dubai: Meet the swimming sensation who made a splash winning 5 gold, 2 silver medals

The 17-year-old captain of The Millennium School placed in all seven events in the CBSE UAE swimming clusters under-19 championship 2023


Nandini Sircar

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Shreyah Jain (centre) after winning gold. — Supplied photo
Shreyah Jain (centre) after winning gold. — Supplied photo

Published: Tue 13 Jun 2023, 6:48 PM

Last updated: Tue 13 Jun 2023, 7:04 PM

Shreyah Jain, at the age of two, fostered a deep affinity for water that began during her early years, well before she had even started walking.

Recognising the importance of swimming as a crucial life skill, her parents introduced her to the swimming pool, aiming to provide her with an opportunity they had missed out on themselves.

“It has always been my first love, where I feel I express myself,” says Shreyah, who won five gold and two silver medals in all seven events in CBSE UAE swimming clusters under-19 championship 2023 and bagged one silver and one Bronze medal at this year’s Dubai School Games.

“The first time I ever competed was in Bangalore, India, in first grade. My school coach needed an extra swimmer. He put me in a higher age group and took me to a competition. Though I did not place there, I realised that this is what I wanted to do — compete,” says the 17-year-old Indian expat.

When Shreyah moved to Dubai in 2015, she initially felt she was in an unfamiliar setting. But winning her school's inter-house competition quickly drew the spotlight on her.

“I started training under my school coach and slowly improved. He realised it would be best if I joined an academy to train professionally.

"At the academy, I rapidly climbed up the different level squads and finally reached the main competition squad in 2019 under the head coach, sir Francis. I start training in the mornings every day before school at 4.30am and then I trained again in the evenings for three hours after school”, says the grade 12 student and the swimming captain of The Millennium School Dubai.

Shreyah with her medals. — Supplied photo
Shreyah with her medals. — Supplied photo

Primarily, adept at breaststroke, in 2019, Shreyah performed well having competed at the Rajasthan State Level competition for the first time and won a bronze medal there.

Then, at the CBSE Clusters Dubai, she bagged a silver and bronze medal followed by her accomplishments at the CBSE National Championship held in Bhopal, India.

“By the end of 2019, it was only looking up for me. But then Covid-19 struck. The pools were closed at that time, and we couldn’t train as much. That led to a big pause. So, after the restrictions were lifted it required double the effort to get back.”

Sacrifice plays a key role in a sportsperson’s life

Shedding light on how “sacrifice” plays a key role in navigating through various challenges while she strives to ace both academics and sports, Shreyah adds: “The biggest challenge is to balance my academics and sports because, to me, my academic performance is equally important. It is difficult and many sportspersons face the struggles that I do. But I have a very supportive environment with all my teachers being very understanding. I take exams later if I my competitions fall in between my exams. Sometimes, I have to miss school for training. But my coach is also very supportive. He reworks my schedule when I have to attend classes or have other academic commitments.

"To be a good sportsperson, one needs to make a lot of sacrifices. It might impact both your academic and social life. Therefore, it’s important to be able to create a balance. There is a lot of pressure from different quarters. But seek support from parents, friends, seniors and your guide who is your coach.”

The young adult who is now gearing up to compete at the Rajasthan State Level Championship, has also completed a PADI Open Water Diver Certification course.

“I also look forward to do further certifications so that I can get into ocean conservation.”

Narrating a back story and shedding light on this lifelong skill, she adds: “Learning to swim is crucial for water safety and survival, not just for physical fitness alone. Knowing how to swim can save not only your own life but others too apart from the enjoyment factor associated with it.

“In Mauritius, we went snorkelling and my mother got stuck in a current and she wasn’t able to swim out of it. So, my sister and I, who can both swim very well, immediately took off our life jackets and helped her get out of the current,” she adds.


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