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Across Palk Strait in 14 hours

Special Correspondent
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Bravo!:S.P. Murleedharan, who battled odds to realise his dream of crossing Palk Strait, reaching Arichamunai.— Photo: L. Balachandar
Bravo!:S.P. Murleedharan, who battled odds to realise his dream of crossing Palk Strait, reaching Arichamunai.— Photo: L. Balachandar

Noted adventure swimmer S.P. Murleedharan of Kerala successfully swam across Palk Strait earlier this week from Talaimannar in Sri Lanka to Arichamunai (Eroding Point) at Danushkodi in India. This was his second attempt.

Rapturous reception

A sizeable crowd including his fans, tourists and pilgrims who had assembled at Arichamunai braving a scorching sun to have a glimpse of the swimmer touching the Indian shores gave him a rapturous reception. One of them rushed towards him with the national flag.

Some enthusiastic spectators lifted him and congratulated him for the fantastic achievement. Though there was nothing to eat or drink at the uninhabited area, a few of them offered him juice to Murleedharan, who didn't seem to be tired in spite of several hours of swimming.

Full of sea snakes

Palk Strait is said to be hostile to swimmers as it is full of sea snakes and other dangerous marine creatures.

The time clock, in possession of M. Vijaya Kumar, observer of the expedition, showed that Murleedharan took 14.28 hours to cross 19 nautical miles, which is about 35 km. He began his effort at around 1.30 a.m. and reached the shore at 4.23 p.m. While a team of navigators provided route guidance, four relay swimmers of Danushkodi swam in between to instil confidence. A few mechanised trawlers and the vessels of Indian Navy escorted him. A doctor accompanied him to attend to him in case of emergency.

“As an Indian I feel proud to cross Palk Strait from Sri Lanka to India. The conditions were extremely tough for swimming. The sea, pleasant in the initial stage, turned very rough. It forced me to swim against the strong wind and choppy sea. “It is a dream come true. When I made an unsuccessful attempt a few years ago I never thought that I could cross Palk Strait considering the adverse sea conditions. It is because of my belief and confidence, I could achieve it,” he added.

Murleedharan's next aim is to cross Catalina Channel in the U.S. on August 30.

S.P. Murleedharan swims from Talaimannar to Arichamunai

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