Vishwas K.S. gives determination and grit a whole new meaning. The 26-year-old from Bengaluru, who lost both hands in a tragic accident when he was 10, has done India proud by winning three medals at the ‘2016 Speedo Can Am Para-swimming Championships’ held in Canada.
It took around three years of intense training for Vishwas to gain the skills needed to become a professional swimmer. Without the use of his hands, he mastered butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle swimming. “I won a silver medal in backstroke and another in breaststroke (100 m), and bronze in butterfly (50 m) at the championships last week,” he says.
It’s a bittersweet accomplishment, as the young man remembers the time before the accident in Kolar. “My father Satyanarayana Murthy was a clerk in the Agriculture Department. Sixteen years ago, I was watering the cemented portions at the home that we were building when I suddenly lost balance and fell on live electric wires. My father rushed to save me from being electrocuted, but lost his life. After being in coma for two months, I recovered, but lost my hands,” recalls Vishwas. The family shifted to Bengaluru shortly after that accident.
He completed his B.Com. at Basaveshwara College in Vijayanagar, and then took up odd jobs. Vishwas learned to cope with insensitive comments from many people. What helped was a strong support system of friends, who often took him to their dance, kung fu and swimming classes. “After a few months, I was bitten by the swimming bug,” says Vishwas. That was when he reached out to Astha, an NGO. Its founder, Sunil Jain, helped him achieve his dream.
“Vishwas repeatedly expressed a desire to learn swimming,” says Mr. Jain. Along with another NGO Book A Smile, Astha provided trainers, infrastructure, nutrition plans and other tools that athletes need to compete in the professional arena.
Last year, Vishwas won three silver medals at the national level para-swimming competition held in Belagavi. That’s how Sports Authority of India chose him for the championships in Canada.
“My dream is to take part in 2020 Olympics in Tokyo,” says Vishwas, who believes that support makes the greatest difference to the differently-abled. “I owe my success to the senior citizens at the RPC Swimming Pool at Basaveshwaranagar who reached out to me,” he says.