By Phil Whitten
MUMBAI, India, March 23. INDIA has never been among the world's great swimming powers. But that may be changing — at least in open water swimming — with the spectacular advent of five year-old Sainika Todankar on the open water scene.
Yes, you read that correctly. Sainika is five. That's five, as in "five fingers on a hand," Elmo.
According to a story on NDTV in Mumbai (the former Bombay) yesterday, the precocious five-year-old girl set a national record after she swam 35 km (22 miles) non-stop for over 11 hours in the Arabian Sea.
Sainika has now become the youngest person to accomplish this feat, the previous record-holder having been a geezer of 11 years of age.
According to the NDTV story, Sainika's parents introduced her to swimming, but it was her coach who recognized her endurance and long distance potential.
"When we enrolled her for swimming coaching, we would joke with her to break this record. But when her coach discussed this with us, we started taking steps to encourage her," said Samruddhi Todankar, Sainika's mother.
Earlier this year, Sainika did a 12 km (7-1/2 mile) ocean swim in four hours 32 minutes.