We all love to swim, don’t we? After a hectic day, a swim is the best way to relax. But imagine if I told you to swim in a sea or an ocean for more than 8 hours after midnight; sounds scary, doesn’t it? For head constable Tulasi Chaitanya, it is not.
On March 25, Tulasi Chaitanya, a Vijayawada resident, set a new record by crossing the Palk Strait in a record 8 hours and 25 minutes. He started at 1 A.M and completed the entire 30 kilometres by 9:25 in the morning. He has won a total of 14 international medals in the World Police Games having won six in 2013(3 gold and 3 silver) and eight in 2017(1 gold, 6 silver and 1 bronze). He has won a total of 30 south zone medals and has won the best swimmer award twice in the All India Police Aquatic Meet. Here is how the conversation went with him:
When did you start swimming?
I started swimming at the age of 9 in 1997 under Shyam Shiv Rao Sir. At that time, I was in a summer camp.
Who inspired you to become a swimmer?
I used to go to the house of one of my seniors. He had won many state level medals and after seeing those medals, I got inspired to become a swimmer and win medals for our country.
Which is more difficult, being a police officer or being a swimmer?
Police officer. It is very tough.
Do you think every police official should be involved in sports?
Not only police officials, but everyone in society should be involved in sports. I think that it is better to run in the ground than run around hospitals.
Is swimming a viable career option in India?
There are many opportunities for swimming. Through swimming you can get jobs in army, navy, railways, income tax, Food Corporation of India. Even becoming a coach is very easy these days. I became a police constable through swimming and even after joining, my entire department supports me to do well.
How are the swimming facilities in Andhra Pradesh?
It is very good. In Visakhapatnam, there is the Aqua Sports Complex which is on par with international standards. I trained over there for 7 years. Even in Vijayawada, there are very good swimming facilities in Gandhinagar.
How do you think we can inspire more youngsters to become swimmers?
Lots of school children used to come and swim when I was training in Bangalore. They were coming because sports was an additional subject and they got marks for it. It was compulsory for them. So I think that in order to inspire youngsters, we need to make sports a compulsory part of the education curriculum.
What has been your most memorable moment?
My most memorable moment was swimming 26 km with my senior Rajiv Trivedi Sir from Bheemili to Visakhapatnam. Another memorable moment was in 2014 when my sports officer Gautam Sawang became the police commissioner of Vijayawada. I felt that now I am in safe hands. He is a sports enthusiast and he is like a guardian to me.
How did Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh (SAAP) help you with your career?
My basic foundation started in SAAP. Before training in SAAP, I used to get only silver medals but after training in SAAP, I started winning medals in nationals and I also got 30 medals in south zone.
What are your future plans?
I want to cross the English channel and also climb the Mount Everest. I want to become the first person to conquer both the seas and the mountains. I want to become an inspiration for my native people and my countrymen.
What message would you like to give to the younger generation of this country?
Don’t lose hope when you face defeat. People don’t think twice when they win but they quit completely after facing defeat. My only message for the youngsters is not to lose patience and never give up.