Arhatha Magavi, a final year Commerce student at Shri Ram College of Commerce is a swimmer who has represented her state and country in various competitions. In 2004 and 2006 she was declared the “Best swimmer” during Nationals and in 2009, she received the award for “Best Indian performance” in 100m Butterfly at Senior Nationals. Additionally, she was awarded a silver medal at the Asian Youth Games in 200m Butterfly which also resulted in a qualification for the Youth Olympics in Singapore in 2011. DU Beat correspondent Madhurya recently sat down to talk to this young achiever about her love for the sport, the sacrifices she had to make during her journey and words of advice for aspiring sports stars.
When did you start swimming and how did you get into the competitive side of this sport?
I started swimming at the age of six amongst a lot of other routine activities. My parents were really particular that my sister and I participate in extra-curricular activities as a necessary part of growing up. So, once we were sent to another summer camp for swimming by the Olympian, Nisha Millet. When we were at the camp, I got really annoyed for some reason with the fact that she was only teaching the butterfly stroke to the bigger kids and not the younger ones like me and it hurt my ego so I started trying to do the butterfly stroke on my own in the toddler’s pool. On looking over, she was immensely impressed with the determination of my 6 year old self and suggested my parents that they send me to a competitive swimming centre called BAC in Bangalore and after that, there was no looking back.
What has been your proudest moment in your journey so far?
At my first nationals in 2004, I was awarded with 6 gold medals and the “Best swimmer” award in my category. Also in 2006, I was the captain for the Karnataka State Team and in 2007 at my first international meet at the South Asian championships at Islamabad, I was awarded three gold medals.
In your journey to become one of the best, what have been the major sacrifices you had to make?
The sacrifices happened every day. My days would start at 5:00 am after which practice would take up time from 5:30 am to 8:30 am and breakfast found time only in the car on the way to school. After that, I would practice in the evening once again from 5:00pm to 8:30 pm every single day. As a result, plans with friends were really never possible. Missing out on social events and slumber parties happened all the time and these sacrifices were also made by my family because they didn’t see the point of leaving me behind.
Do you have any advice for anybody interested in pursuing sports competitively?
Honestly, take up any sport and stick with it, only if you like it. Also never let academics take a backseat, there have actually been incidents where I have avoided some very big events just so my board exams or school aggregate would not suffer.
Apart from swimming, what are your other interests?
I have always liked other sports, I have actually always tried to play other sports like tennis or squash when I found the time. I also like travelling a lot!
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