India is proud as brave heart Prabhat Koli has etched his name in history by becoming the youngest swimmer in the world to win the Ocean Seven Challenge. The Mumbai-based Koli, the winner of the Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award, announced his victory by sharing a post with the caption, “Done and Dusted.”
What is the Ocean Seven Challenge?
The Ocean Seven Challenge, launched in 2008, is a marathon swimming challenge comprising seven open-water channel swims. The challenge is popularly compared to “Seven Summits,” a contest for climbing the seven highest mountain ranges in the world.
To date, only 21 humans have swum across the seven open water channels, and now Koli has become the 22nd on the list.
The open channels include the North Channel, the Cook Strait, the Moloka’i Channel, the English Channel, the Catalina Channel, the Tsugaru Strait, and the Strait of Gibraltar. The difficult challenge is organised by the Marathon Swimming Federation or MSF and World Open Water Swimming Association or WOWSA.
The North Channel or Irish Channel is between Northern Ireland and Scotland. The channel is considered the most difficult and dangerous channel for swimming as the water temperature is 54°F or 12°C with inevitable weather and water conditions. The 35-km channel is replete with cold water, thunderstorms, and strong currents.
The Cook Strait is the channel between the North and South Islands of New Zealand. The 23-km stretch of the channel has sharks and it is said that 1 in 6 swimmers has an encounter with them. Similar to the North Channel, the water is cold here also, and the temperature is usually between 57°F/14°C to 66°F/57°C.
The Molokai Channel or Kaiwi Channel is between the western coast of Molokai Island and the eastern coast of Oahu in Hawaii. The 42-km long channel puts a swimmer in a difficult situation as they face extraordinarily strong currents amid the Pacific Ocean and abundant marine life. The water in the channel is very warm and salty.
The English Channel is between England and France. The 33.5-km International waterway has the narrowest point, cold water temperatures, strong currents, and dwindling weather and water conditions. A lot of swimmers have not been able to swim through it due to strong currents, tidal flows, whitecaps, etc.
The Catalina Channel is between Santa Catalina Island and the Southern California mainland. This 32.3-km long channel poses a threat to swimmers because of its cold water, strong currents, strong winds, and marine life. This channel is often compared to the English Channel in terms of the weather and water conditions.
The Tsugaru Channel is between Honshu, the main island in Japan and Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan. The channel, which is 19.5 km long, is exposed to extremely strong currents, large swells, and abundant marine life, ranging from sharks to deadly sea snakes. The swimmers face difficulties due to large blooms of squid at night.
The Strait of Gibraltar is between Spain and Morocco, and it connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. The 14.4 km-long channel makes the journey of swimmers tough due to heavy boat traffic, logistical barriers, and surface chop. The wind and water conditions further aggravate the tension for swimmers.
But who is this boy from India?
Prabhat Raju Koli is a 23-year-old swimmer from India who has fascinated India and now the whole world with his dexterous movements while swimming. Koli has brought several laurels home and has won recognition at the global level.
Some of his grandeur achievements include: he is the youngest male to complete the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming; he has swum the English Channel in 13 hours and 14 minutes in 18°C at the age of 2015; he has completed a Round Jersey circumnavigation swim in just 10 hours and 11 minutes; and the list will go on, and yet, one won’t be able to describe all his achievements.
After his recent and most coveted victory, Prabhat said that it was the best moment of his 15-year-long career, and finally, his years of training under gruelling and difficult situations have paid off!
It is indeed a proud moment for the entire country as the boy sets out to become an inspiration for millions of people. In recent times, India has seen an upsurge in the population of sportspersons who are keeping the head of the country held high. The celebration has doubled with the nation hosting its first edition of the Women’s Premier League.