Despite the challenges faced by Indian athletes, the future of Indian swimming looks promising. Let’s learn about the best Indian swimmers that paved the way.
Swimming has a long history in India, with the first swimming competitions held in the early 1900s. However, the sport did not gain much popularity until the 1950s and 1960s. During this time, Indian swimmers began to participate in international competitions such as the Olympics.
Over the years, Indian swimmers have set several national records and won numerous medals at international events. Some of the most notable Indian swimmers include Sandeep Sejwal, Sajan Prakash, Shikha Tandon, and Shamsher Khan.
In this article, we will take a look at some of the best Indian swimmers of all time. If you want to take up swimming yourself, you might be inspired by our list of morning swimming quotes.
Famous Indian Swimmers
Despite the success of Indian swimmers in recent years, the sport still faces several challenges, such as a lack of adequate facilities, training programs, and financial support. Despite these setbacks, Indian swimmers continue to make strides in the sport:
1. Mihir Sen
Mihir Sen was the first Indian to swim across the English Channel in 1958. He won several national awards for his swimming achievements and was awarded the Padma Shri in 1959.
Sen continued to challenge himself, and in 1966, he swam in the waters of five continents, including the Panema Cannal, the Palk Strait, the Strait of Gibraltar, the Dardanelles, and the Bosphorus. A year later, the Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, presented Sen with the Padma Bhushan.
2. Bula Choudhury
Bula Choudhury is a famous Indian swimmer who was bound to make waves. She competed in her first swimming competition when she was only nine years old and won six gold medals.
Choudhury grew up to win several national and international awards for her swimming achievements, including the Arjuna Award and the Panema Shri Award. In 1991, she won four gold medals in the South Asian Games.
She also famously became the first woman to cross channels in five continents, including the Catalina Channel and the Strait of Gibraltar. Check out our guide on famous female triathletes.
3. Sajan Prakash
Sajan Prakash is a young Indian swimmer who has represented India at several international events, including the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2020 Tokyo Games, which were held in 2021. That same year, he set a new Indian record when he finished the 200m freestyle event at the Sette Colli Trophy in 1:49.73.
He has three gold medals from the South Asian Games. Prakash also nabbed six gold medals and two silver medals at the 2015 National Games of India.
4. Virdhawal Khade
Virdhawal Khade is one of the most accomplished Indian swimmers. He has represented India at several international events, including the Olympics, Commonwealth Games, and the Asian Games. In 2008, he became the first Indian to be named in the top 100 FINA World Swimming Rankings.
In 2018, he set a new Indian record when he cleared the 50m freestyle with a time of 22.43. During the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games, he broke a 100m freestyle record with his time of 49.47. He also has nine gold medals from the South Asian Games and four silver medals.
5. Shamsher Khan
Shamsher Khan is considered one of the greatest Indian athletes of all time. He was the first Indian swimmer to participate in the Olympics, achieving the feat in the 1956 Summer Games.
Two years earlier, he broke the national 200m butterfly record. He was known for his speed and endurance and was a dominant force in the pool during his time.
6. Sandeep Sejwal
Sandeep Sejwal is another Indian swimmer who has made significant achievements in the sport. He holds the national records for the 50m, 100m, and 200m breaststroke events. Sejwal also won seven gold medals at the South Asian Games, two silver medals, and one bronze.
7. Shikha Tandon
Shikha Tandon is an accomplished Indian swimmer with 146 medals from national competitions under her belt. She also won a total of 36 medals in international contests, five of which were gold.
She was only 13 years old when she competed in her first Asian games and went on to participate in her first World Championship event only three years later. Tandon later represented India in the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
This article was researched with the help of OpenAI and fact-checked and edited by our human editor.