The Extraordinary Story Of Bula Choudhury, India’s International Swimming Champion

Posted: June 12, 2018

Bula Choudhury overcame many hurdles – financial, medical, and social, to become the award winning swimmer that she is today, creating many records.

Life is a struggle which requires patience, consistent effort, and positive attitude as key elements to face situations, overcome them, and win this struggle.

This is the story of Bula Choudhury, the first Indian woman who became the world champion after crossing the seven seas. Recently, she was honoured by the President of India. She has created several swimming records till date.

As a child, she loved to swim. She had a hole in her ear, due to which there would always occur some fungal infection. Her doctors said that water was her enemy, but she didn’t leave swimming. In 1982, after the swimming championship in the Asian Games, her ear was operated upon. After some time, she came to know that her heart rate was erratic and doctors recommended that she get a pacemaker fixed. Despite all of this, she continued swimming as soon as she recovered. She was then diagnosed as being allergic to sea water, but she didn’t let that deter her. Recently a medicine for skin treatment she was taking caused a reaction that could have caused her to become comatose, but was saved from that by the prompt action of doctors. Despite all of this, she has persisted.

Bula’s swimming journey started at the age of 9 years. There was a lake near her house, where her father used to take her to learn swimming, Her father told her that once, when he was going somewhere in a boat, it sank in the river; someone saved him, and then he learned swimming himself, deciding to make his child a swimmer.

At the age of 4 years her parents took her to a swimming club which was quite far, where her swimming coach said that she was very talented girl, and that he would make her a good swimmer. When she was 9 years old, she became the National Champion. From then to when she was 21 years old, she has created several records which no one has been able to break. When she was 12 years old she participated in the Asian Games in Delhi. It was her first International Championship, after which she has won many International Championships.

Bula belongs to a place where nobody knew what a swimsuit or track suit was. When she started swimming, she didn’t have a swimsuit. Her mother saw a swimming costume somewhere and stitched it herself, and Bula swam with that cotton costume made by her mother. When she came to the Delhi national camp, she used to practice in a frock. She didn’t have a track suit. When her friends would crack jokes on her way of practicing in a frock, she asked her father for an appropriate costume, but he didn’t have enough money to buy a swimsuit for her. She collected the money somehow and then bought herself a swimsuit.

When she was 11 years old she came to the Indian camp, where a German coach selected her for the Asian games. People used to say, how will she win? But she didn’t bother about what people said, and put in her efforts to become a champion, and when she won medals, these were the same people who praised her for her achievements.

She is married to Sanjeev Chakraborty, also an international level swimmer. He is the fastest swimmer of India, and supported Bula a lot after marriage.

She has been honoured four times by the President of India. She has got the Arjuna award, the Tensing Norgey National Adventure award, and the Padmashree award. She has participated in the 26th January Republic Day parade too this year, and is the only one in her family associated with sports.

Bula Choudhury’s life journey has given a message that we should never think that because we are women, we can’t do anything. Every girl possess a talent; the only need is to bring that hidden talent out. We should fight for our talent, for our aim in life, and should empower ourselves as well as other women.

Published here earlier.

Image source: YouTube

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