Udupi, Dec 1, 2013, DHNS: Well-known swimmer Gopal Kharvi, an autorickshaw driver by profession, entered the Guinness World Records for swimming against the current, literally, with his hands cuffed and his feet in shackles.
Kharvi set the record in the category of “farthest swim wearing handcuffs and leg irons” and said he was on cloud nine on achieving his lifetime dream.
Braving violent waves, the swimmer covered 3.07 km in the sea. He took up the adventure from St Mary’s island at 7:37 am and reached Malpe shore at 10:20 am. The adjudicator from Guinness World Records, London, Pravin Patel confirmed the feat. He said more than the timing, distance was important.
“It is absolutely a brand new record. The minimum record we had set was 2 km. The handcuffs had to be fitted and the length of the leg irons had to be less than 50 cm.
He was not allowed to wear slippers but was allowed to wear goggles. There was a support boat but he was not allowed to touch it. There was a pre-marked route from the island to the shore. The distance was accurately measured with the help of global positioning system (GPS) surveys,” he said.
Speaking to Deccan Herald, the triumphant swimmer said though he felt a little weary in the beginning, especially in the first 2-km stretch, when violent waves made it difficult to conquer the sea, he was determined to achieve his goal.
He said he was ready for all the hurdles, because he knew that it was a lifetime opportunity.
“This was the only available opportunity before me. I had to achieve success at any cost. I don’t think I will go for anything more in the near future,” he added.
Kharvi’s earlier attempt at a world record in January 2012 was not considered by the Guinness authorities as he failed to capture his feat using a GPS camera, which is mandatory to make it to the Guinness World Records. Then, he had taken 2 hours, 45 minutes and 14 seconds to cover the distance. The ace swimmer said he needs a decent job for livelihood and sought the government’s support in this regard. He said he has spent Rs 12.5 lakh on his attempt to achieve the goal. Kharvi remembered Y Ravindranath Rao, Head of the Department of Sociology at SMS College, Brahmavar, philatelist and Guinness record holder Daniel Monteiro and said they were instrumental in helping him achieve the goal.
In 2003, Kharvi swam (freestyle) 40 km from Hangarakatte estuary to Katpady via St Mary’s Island and Malpe estuary in six hours.
He continued his adventures in the sea and swam the 80-km stretch from Gangolli in Kundapur to Malpe in 2004. He began the adventure at 6:30 am and reached Malpe by 5 pm. He has won several awards, including the state-level swimming marathon in 2005. He was also honoured with the Kannada Rajyotsava award in 2010. He entered the Limca Book of Records in December 2009 when he covered a distance of 15 km (from St Mary’s Island to Malpe Beach) in just 140 minutes with his hands and legs in iron shackles.