New Delhi: Google is celebrating the 80th birthday of India’s trailblazing long-distance swimmer Arati Saha in its doodle today.
Arati Saha was born in Kolkata on September 24, 1940, to a middle-class Bengali Hindu family. She is the first Asian woman to swim across the English Channel on September 29, 1959. This feat is considered to be the swimming equivalent of climbing Mount Everest, ZeeNews reported.
Saha covered 42 miles from Cape Gris Nez, France to Sandgate, England (a route depicted in the doodle) to become the first Asian woman to swim across the English Channel.
She learned to swim at the age of four on the banks of the Hooghly River. Later, she trained under one of India’s top competitive swimmers, Sachin Nag and went on to win her first swimming gold medal when she was only five.
She became the youngest member on the first and only women members team to represent the newly independent India in the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland.
Saha first attempted to cross the English Channel when she was 18 years old but did not succeed. Not one to give up, she completed with feat a month later, a historic victory for women across India.
Saha was honoured with the Padma Shri in 1960 making her the first-ever female recipient of the award.