City lass to swim Strait of Gibraltar, English Channel

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Mumbai, May 26 (UNI) Aakanksha Mishra, a 16-year-old city girl, who has made a name for herself in the arena of long distance swimming in the country has now set her sights on conquering the Strait of Gibraltar and the English Channel.

Aakanksha Mishra, who has recently become eligible to swim the English Channel after turning 16 recently, has also plans to swim the Strait of Gibraltar from Spain to Africa and back, a feat not many Asian swimmers have achieved.

''The Strait of Gibraltar is considered tougher for swimmers despite being only 21-km long since it is shark-infested and also happens to have very strong currents, which makes it difficult to swim through,'' Aakanksha said.

And though there have not been any shark attacks on swimmers it is necessary to have adequate support staff to ensure the swimmer's safety, she added.

''I have swum 70 km from Alibaug (in Raigad district) to the city last year so I am not too worried about the distance but the currents are strong and I need to prepare for them.'' The teenager, who took up long distance swimming in the fifth standard, has been swimming between three to four hours daily and during the coldest days of the winter in January this year practised for two to three hours in the Arabian Sea to prepare for the cold of the English Channel.

''I might be the youngest swimmer to cross the English Channel this year and I will be going to Dover in England in June to acclimatise myself and prepare for the swim that should be in August,'' she said.

Aakanksha, being coached by Arjuna awardee Arti Pradahan, said the trip to England will also be her first outside India, which would make it more exciting.

UNI GS RN RKM RN1945

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