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Twelve-year-old’s 570-kilometre open water swim stirs up controversy

Credit: The Indian Express
Credit: The Indian Express

A 12-year-old girl from India has been gaining worldwide attention in the swimming world after she set out on August 28th to swim the 570-km distance from Kanpur to Varanasi, India. A Mumbai-based documentary film maker has followed her journey but according to The Indian Express, he claims she has spent most of the time in a boat instead of swimming.

The filmmaker, Vinod Capri, claims that the girl’s father threatened him when he inquired about why 12-year-old Shraddha Shukla was spending so much time on the boat. Shukla allegedly took up the challenge herself and her plan was to swim 70 km everyday. According to her father, she completed a similar challenge back in 2014, when she was 10 years old and swam a distance of 280 km over the course of a few days.

“For two days, I, along with three of my associates, travelled on (Shukla’s father’s) boat. We found that most of the time, the girl travelled in the boat instead of swimming. She used to swim before they approached a ghat or when there are people around. She used to spend rest of the time on the boat,” Capri said in a statement said.

Shukla intended to swim the 570-km distance from Kanpur to Varanasi across roughly 10 days.

Capri has also decided to launch an investigation through a national child’s rights organization. He believes the distance of the swim violates a 12-year-old’s rights.

Shukla’s father claims all measures have been set in place to ensure his daughter’s safety during the swim.

“We had prepared for the tour for the last two months,” he said in a statement. “We had requested our relatives, friends and some private divers to help her in the exercise. We have also arranged for a doctor, who is our family friend, to attend to her.” He added that Shukla wants to represent India in the Olympics as an open water swimmer some day.

We estimated that 70 km of open water swimming everyday would take approximately 16 hours (minimum) for a good adult swimmer, not factoring in weather and water conditions.