Suvana C. Bhaskar started swimming competitively at the age of six when her parents realised she had a flair for the sport. “I only wanted her to learn swimming because I didn’t want her to have a fear of water” says her mother, Chetana Bhaskar. She added that she considers swimming a life skill, and therefore, encouraged her daughter to take it up as a sport.
Suvana favours the backstroke and that’s what she did for the relay medley for which she won a silver medal at the sub-junior nationals held in Goa earlier this year. She has won a total of 41 medals and other than the silver medal, she’s won a bronze in the State meet last year and a gold in the State meet this year. If she qualifies in the next State meet that is scheduled in November, she will get the opportunity to represent the South Zone.
Her mother says that the level of competition has only increased over the last few years, making it very difficult for the child to stay motivated. Says Suvana: “When I missed the bronze medal by a few seconds and came fourth at the national-level competition, I felt really bad, but my coach took me out for pizza and said that coming fourth in a country of a billion people is a huge accomplishment!”
As an asthmatic, the young swimmer also has a fair amount of anxiety to overcome before a competition. “Just before the whistle blows, I feel like I can’t breathe, but when I am in the water and start swimming, I forget everything else and feel really happy.”
Achieving so much at such a young age has come with its share of sacrifices and compromises. “I feel different from other kids sometimes because I can’t eat junk food and I have to watch my diet. There have been times when I have had to miss my friends’ birthday parties because I feel too tired or I have a training session.” But while she does that she “can’t be like other children,” she forgets all else when she wins a medal.
Ask Suvana whether she enjoys the rigorous training that a sport like swimming involves and she says, “I look forward to training every day. I have an hour of physical training every morning and gym training three times a week, which needs me to leave school early on those days.”
Suvana comes from a family of swimmers and happens to be the fourth generation. She also represents her school in basketball and she believes that the additional training only helps her. Clearly multitalented, she happens to be a pro at cricket and also an aspiring singer.