Google Doodle celebrates Arati Saha, first Asian woman to swim across English Channel

Google today celebrated the 80th birth anniversary of Arati Saha, the first Asian woman to swim across the English Channel. The doodle depicts the breathtaking 67 km route from Cape Gris Nez in France to Sandgate, England.

Born in Kolkata in 1940, she had a love for swimming from a very young age and the Hooghly River was where she had her first swimming lessons. 

Under the mentorship of Sachin Nag, she won 22 state-level titles between 1945 and 1951. She represented India in the 1952 Olympic Games but did not win any medals. Inspired by Mihir Sen, the first Asian man to swim across the English Channel, she set out to conquer the cold and choppy waves.

Arduous journey

Crossing the English Channel, a feat considered equivalent to climbing Mount Everest, was a test of endurance which has claimed the lives of at least eight swimmers over the years.

Arati Saha | File

Arati Saha | File  


After long months of training physically and mentally, Saha swam across the English Channel on September 29, 1959.

She was awarded the Padma Shri in 1960 and was the first-ever female recipient of the award. Saha passed away on August 23, 1994.

Today’s Doodle was illustrated by Kolkata native and guest artist 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!,” she writes on the Google Doodle page.

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Printable version | Jun 23, 2021 8:58:30 AM |

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