18-Year-Old Medical Student Swims Mumbai’s Polluted Waters to Spark Change

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A 18 Year Girl Is Swiming
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Swimming has gets a maximum of 24 medals at the Olympics. No wonder a swimmer tries to take part in it. But think of a swimmer who wants to focus on attracting attention to the filthy and polluted waters around Mumbai, and one will be surprised by such an attempt! On December 29, at midnight, as the lights dimmed in the city, Hazel Raikundalia and her family left home to board a jetty docked at the construction site of the Bandra-Versova Sea Link. From there, they headed to a pillar at the Bandra end of the BV Link Road, and at 2.09 sharp, Hazel jumped into the sea.

Hazel had embarked on a 36-km swim from the Bandra-Worli Sea Link to the Gateway of India, a feat that would take her till morning. Her goal was to call attention to the filthy and polluted waters around the commercial capital of India as well as get certified to tackle tougher routes like the English Channel, where the waters are far colder and choppier. Hazel, 18, is a first-year student at KJ Somaiya Medical College. She has been a swimmer since age 12 and has swum at the state and national level, but the push towards long-distance swimming happened after the lockdown, when her coach propelled her towards it. Her coach, Umesh Utekar, noted that she has the requisite stamina and physique.

While swimming in the Arabian Sea, Hazel came across plastic bottles. The tide, too, initially low, became windier, and she had to face the waves. But her grit and determination, combined with the hearty cheers of friends and family accompanying her on 3 fishermen’s boats, kept her spirits high. After clocking 7 hours, 5 minutes, and 49 seconds, Hazel alighted at the steps of the Gateway of India at 9.14 a.m. She had battled garbage, thermocol, oil spills, and plastic, and parts of her body were stained black from the filth.

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But as her father Mites remarked, her objective of drawing attention to the pollution of the sea was achieved. Also, her other goal of reaching the marathon target in long-distance swimming was also achieved. Hazel says that it is all for the sea. It is said that swimming is the best exercise. But swimming in the polluted sea is a big challenge. Hazel Rajkundalia has shown that we can concentrate on reducing pollution in order to enjoy a new year of challenges in different fields of development.

It is heartening to see a teenager braving garbage and oil spills at low tide to call attention to the pollution of the sea, better known as Ratnakar, or a reservoir of gems. Hazel is a remarkable eco-warrior! She might become a good doctor, both for the patients and the environment. Her adventure of swimming from the Sea Link to Gateway will inspire many youngsters to be an adventurer for a noble cause such as environmental protection!

Govind Tekale

Embarking on a new journey post-retirement, Govind, once a dedicated teacher, has transformed his enduring passion for current affairs and general knowledge into a conduit for expression through writing. His historical love affair with reading, which borders on addiction, has evolved into a medium to articulate his thoughts and disseminate vital information. Govind pens down his insights on a myriad of crucial topics, including the environment, wildlife, energy, sustainability, and health, weaving through every aspect that is quintessential for both our existence and that of our planet. His writings not only mirror his profound understanding and curiosity but also serve as a valuable resource, offering a deep dive into issues that are critical to our collective future and well-being.

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