17-yr-old city girl swims to glory, wins gold medal in national games

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Chandigarh: Chahat Arora used to train at the solar-heated Sector 23 swimming pool only on sunny days. With the last month seeing many rainy days, Chahat would miss out on training. So, she would swim 3 kilometre on the sunny days. Her perseverance paid off during the national games on Sunday when she became the first swimmer from Chandigarh to win the gold medal in women’s 100 M breaststroke event.

Seventeen-year-old Chahat clocked a timing of one minute and 17.48 second to finish ahead of Maharashtra’s Monique Gandhi and Tamil Nadu’s A V Jayaveena.

“It’s perhaps the biggest day of my career. I was looking towards the clock after the race and I just missed the national record by .13 seconds. But I will take this performance any day,” said the XIIth standard student of Vivek High School, Sector 38, who joined SAI Centre at Panjab University three years ago.

Chahat started swimming at the age of five on seeing her elder brother Sparsh Arora train in Sector 23, and the youngster first hit the headlines when she won the gold medal in 50 M breaststroke in school nationals in 2009. She followed that up with bronze medals in school nationals in 2010 and 2011 before claiming the bronze medals in Junior Nationals in Hyderabad in 2010.

Last year, Chahat claimed the silver medal in senior nationals in Kolkata and also three titles in the CBSE nationals.

“In Chandigarh, we have swimming season for summer only as rest of the months it gets cold. So my coach Gurcharanjit Singh at SAI Centre, PU, also put me into athletics. Unfortunately Gurcharanjit sir was unwell and could not accompany to Kerela. But the win over Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu’s swimmers in the final on Sunday must have made him proud,” said Chahat, whose father P J Arora is an engineer.

Following Chahat’s win, the senior Arora and Chahat’s mother Geeta Arora will be a nervous lot on Monday as well when Sparsh swims in the triathlon event in the national games.

“It was for the first time that Chandigarh sent its swimming team in the national games. And we had to make alternative plans. With Sparsh also in the team, one of us had to stay back in Kerela. We hope her medal will encourage more youngsters to take up swimming and we would have an all-weather, fully heated swimming pool in the city,” said Geeta.

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