Hey stubborn army!
We are once again here to share with you a magical tale that will give you goosebumps, will make you cry and yet will inspire you till every corner of your heart.
Today we are going to unravel the astounding tale of Ms.Bhakti Sharma. Bhakti is the youngest and the only asian to swim across all the five oceans. She had to face violent tides both in oceans and in life, but nothing could tame her stubbornness.
So come let’s dive right into the icy waters and ride the tides with Bhakti mam and feel the glories and the pains…
A born mermaid
Bhakti’s mother, Mrs. Leena Sharma, was an amateur swimmer herself. She started teaching Bhakti to swim when she was just 2 and half years old. Bhakti picked up swimming as if she was a born mermaid but society came in her way.
“I wanted to teach Bhakti swimming but there were no pools in Udaipur back then. I managed to find a pool in a five star hotel. I tried to teach her there but it was socially unacceptable so we had to stop. ” shared Leena mam
Bhakti’s swimming came to a halt but Leena mam remained resilient. Eventually the time came for Bhakti to make a comeback and what a comeback she made. She became a phenomenal swimmer just at the age of 8 and at 12 was already breaking national records.
Bhakti’s strokes became prettier than diamonds and her stamina was exceptional, thanks to her coach and mother Leena mam.
First Fights With the Tides
Bhakti used to swim for hours in the pool and yet come out more refreshed. Leena mam quickly realised that she can be good in open water swimming. (swimming in open reservoirs like lakes,seas or oceans)
Bhakti and her mother embarked on the journey of open water swimming. She began by doing a 36 km swim from Dharamtal to Gateway in Mumbai. She swam for 9 hours and 30 minutes non stop just at the age of 14.
Motivated by her performance in the Arabian Sea, Leena mam decided to take her for the famous English Channel. On one hand Bhakti undertook rigorous training and on the other her parents prepared themselves for the financial stress. Both of them succeeded at their parts and Bhakti swam across the English Channel at the age of 16 in 13 hours and 55 minutes.
So in her first fights with the tides, she became a true wave rider at heart and was ready to take on every challenge that life can throw at her…
The Trail of the Five Oceans
In 2006, Bhakti participated in a prestigious event called Lake Zurich Competition. SHe won the gold medal in that competition against all odds. No team. Limited resources and yet she claimed the Gold as it was always her.
After this huge success, the mother-daughter duo had no path to follow. They were alone in their tracks and eventually made their trails themselves.
Through the internet, Bhakti came to know that only 2 people in the world had swam across the Five oceans. She and her mother set sail to make her the third. The only resource they had was the burning desire in Bhakti’s heart to win over every challenge.
The Atlantic and The Pacific oceans meet on the shores of the USA. So States was their next destination. In a span of 3 months Bhakti did 3 long swims, one in the Atlantic another in the Pacific and then the notorious Gulf of Mexico.
She became the first Indian to swim in 3 oceans just at the age of 17. Her resilience and persistence was growing exceptionally each day.
“In the Gulf of Mexico, Bhakti was stung by a poisonous stingray. The swim became a journey of unbearable pain and yet Bhakti completed the swim backed only by her will to complete it. Even I was fearstruck but her courage outlived my fear. ” shared Bhakti’s mother.
An arc with the Arctic
When Bhakti resolved to conquer the five oceans, she didn’t realise that the sub-zero temperatures in the Arctic and the Antarctic would be waiting for her. Also to swim in the Arctic, financial obstacles were also huge.
Before taking on the Arctic, Bhakti reattempted English channel and this time Leena mam was not her coach. Rather they were swimming mates this time. As a trio with Priyanka Gehlot, they made a world record of crossing the English Channel.
Consequently, their motivation grew exponentially. They started preparing for the arctic battle but they had no country that would allow such an adventure.
“I sent thousands of emails to each and every country that had a shore touching the arctic ocean. I contacted swimming pool owners, associations,and the Indian embassies. No one was ready to help until Mr. Hrankfell Merinosson of Iceland came forward ” says Leena Sharma.
Mr. Merinosson was a gem of a person that they had met in the english channel swim. He came as a blessing from almighty. Bhakti won her battle over the arctic in 2010, by swimming 1.8 Km in 33 minutes.
Her milestone was lauded by our nation too. She was awarded the Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award. This award laid the foundation stone for her coming campaign towards the Antarctic.
The road to the Antarctic was a road full of stones and yet Bhakti had to walk it barefoot to make her dream come true.
Antarctic: Conquering the Unconquered
The subzero temperatures, icebergs, the beastly polar animals and a mountain of expenditures all stood in the way of Bhakti’s dream. The dream was in darkness and only her motivation could shed light on it
Her struggles were getting bigger everyday. After arranging all the things needed, the expenditure bar was well over Sharma family’s financial capabilities.
Now her new battle was to find someone who could sponsor her. She knocked door after door but in vain. But as they say “If you do want something with all your heart then the universe conspires to give it to you.” Mr.Joshi, that time CEO of Hindustan Zinc agreed to help. He even made Bhakti the brand ambassador of the company.
After days of travel and voyage in the rough bay, the D-Day came.
“I was about to jump. All around me were icebergs shining like emeralds. Fear was in the air. In complete silence of the ocean, I heard “Ganpati Bappa Maurya” and all fear just vanished. ” shares Bhakti Sharma recalling the moment of her dive into the antarctic.
At the end of the day. Bhakti’s stubbornness won and she made the world record swim of 41.14 minutes, covering 2.25 kms and conquered the world record title. She had to suffer severe hypothermia but she won over it too.
After years and years of hardships,setbacks, victories and failures, tides and calmness. Bhakti and her mother had finally ‘Conquered the Unconquered’.
After her incredible achievement, Indian dignitaries including Baba Ramdev and the Honorable Prime Minister congratulated her. Bhakti became an international sensation why shouldn’t she.
She was honored by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and was invited to give a talk on the show Nayi Baat on Star Plus by Shah Rukh Khan. She has also give various Ted talks and speeches at prestigious institutions.
A Word from Us
I and Bhakti have always believed that, “We all have come to this world, with a fixed expiry date then why not to live life on the edge till that date.” because even if you stay sitting on the couch in your house the death will come and it is inevitable.
Bhakti always says, “You are the only one who stays with you all the time. If you are not investing in yourself then no success in this world can give you joy.”
We all hope that one day we will see Bhakti holding an olympic gold medal for our country. As Bhakti mam says “You are the only one who stays with you all the time. If you are not investing in yourself then no success in this world can give you joy.”
So keep investing in yourselves. And if you need motivation then we are here for you. We will soon be back with another tale that would light you inner fires. Till then
Stay Stubborn, Stay Passionate