Google is paying tributes to Arati Saha, a legendary long distance Indian Olympian swimmer, with a doodle that depicts her achievement of becoming the first Asian woman to swim cross the English channel. Today would have been her 80th birthday. Also Read - Google Removes 3 Android Apps For Children From Play Store, Over Data Collection Violations
Born in Kolkata (then Calcutta) on September 24, 1940, Arati was a swimming prodigy winning her first gold medal aged just five having learned the sport on the banks of Hooghly river. Also Read - Google to Move Hangouts Users to Free Chat Service Next Year
She won 22 state-level titles under the guidance of Sachin Nag between 1945 and 1951. Also Read - 'We Are Waiting': As AIIMS Rules Out Murder in SSR Case, Netizens Remind Kangana of Her Promise to Return Padma Shri
She represented India at the 1952 Olympic Games, aged just 12 but didn’t win any medal.
Her dream though was to conquer the English channel, covering a distance of 67 km. At 18, she made her first attempt after undergoing years of training, but it was unsuccessful. Not to give up easily, Arati took another shot at it and this time, created history on September 29, 1959.
It took her 16 hours and 20 minutes to complete the journey.
Her achievements meant she was bestowed with the Padma Shri – India’s fourth highest civilian award – and this became the first female to have received the honour.
The doodle has been drawn by Kolkata’s Lavanya Naidu. “Having been born and raised in the city of Kolkata, for me, Arati Saha was a known household name growing up. My brother and I used to be avid stamp collectors as kids and I remember our excitement when her stamp was issued in the 90s!,” Naidu wrote on the google doodle page.
Following her achievement, Arati married her long time manager Dr. Arun Gupta in 1959. Together, they had one daughter named Archana.
Arati passed away on August 23, 1994.
The Department of Posts created a postage stamp in 1999 in her honour.