Recently, Tulasi Chaitanya, a Head Constable from Vijayawada, became a hero by beating the record for the shortest time taken to swim across the Palk Strait. The 30-year-old managed to swim from Talaimannar in Sri Lanka to Dhanushkodi in India — a distance of 29 km — in 8 hours and 25 minutes.
Talking about his achievement, and the training that went into it, he says, “I have trained under Olympic coach Pradeep Kumar, in Bengaluru, for six years. I started preparing for the Palk Strait swim in September last year. I would run 5 km every morning, swim 8 to 10 km twice a day, and work out for two hours daily. I included protein supplements and energy drinks in my diet and had regular physiotherapy and massage sessions.”
Tulasi’s record is no minor feat given the circumstances under which he had to swim. The swimmer was terrified throughout, as anyone in his position would be. “The sea was pleasant initially, but later it turned very rough. I was forced to swim against the strong wind and the choppy sea, with no light. There were several sharks and jellyfish in the water. In fact, I was bitten by a jellyfish during a practice swim, and I was left vomiting for two days. On the day of the final swim, I applied grease on my body to make it slippery and thus making it difficult for jellyfish to grip. But throughout, those fish tried to bite me!”
Before long, Tulasi found himself struggling. It was the guidance and support of local fishermen that led to his record-breaking success. “They guided me to the best possible route using marine GPS. A few of them travelled alongside me and helped me to navigate,” the swimmer says.
But when he finally made it back, it all seemed worth it. “I was dying to reach Indian shores; by the time I did, I was exhausted and relieved. My family was there to receive me and I felt this sense of satisfaction.” His timing was recorded by officials of the Aquatic Association of Madurai and Krishna District.
“This success has given me the confidence to kick-off my next expedition!” the cop adds.
Tulasi is no stranger to long-distance swimming. He has swum the 25-km stretch from Bheemunipatnam to R.K. Beach in 2013, and a 3.2 km stretch off Hermosa Beach in an open-water event in 2017. He has bagged several medals at international tournaments including a gold in 4x50-m freestyle relay at the World Police Games held in Belfast last year.
He already has his sights set on his next goal. “I want to swim across the English Channel, from England to France,” he says.
Apart from his family, friends, and trainer, Tulasi has his seniors to thank for their support. “I am grateful to Rajeev Tridevi and A.R. Anuradha, the Home Secretaries of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, and Goutam Sawang, the Police Commissioner of Vijayawada. They have encouraged me from the beginning,” he says....