Guwahati: Google is celebrating the 80th birth anniversary of Arati Saha, the first Asian woman to swim across the English Channel, on Thursday. The doodle depicts the breathtaking 67-km route from Cape Gris Nez in France to Sandgate in England.
Born in Kolkata on September 24, 1940, Saha used to swim on the banks of the Hooghly river. She later trained under Sachin Nag, one of India’s best competitive swimmers. Under his mentorship, she won 22 state-level titles between 1945 and 1951.
At 12, Saha joined India’s first team to participate in the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland. She was one of the only four women to make the team. Inspired by Mihir Sen, the first Asian man to swim across the English Channel, she too set out to conquer the cold waves. After one failed attempt, she managed to complete the journey, becoming the first Asian woman to do so.
Saha was awarded the Padma Shri in 1960 and was the first-ever female recipient of the award. Saha passed away on August 23, 1994.
The 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 wrote on the Google Doodle page.
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