Mumbai: Sixteen-year-old Mumbai mermaid Aakanksha Mishra endured shark-infested waters, adverse weather conditions, tides and ocean currents of varying intensities to conquer the Strait of Gibraltar on Wednesday, September 10.
Aakanksha is the first Asian woman to successfully swim the Strait of Gibraltar this season. She also is the youngest swimmer in the world to swim the Gibraltar in the season 2008-2009 till date.
"I thoroughly enjoyed the swim. I am overjoyed and relieved. I had enough stamina and was prepared to do the two-way swim. But the weather conditions discouraged us," said a delighted Aakanksha from Dover. "But it does not end here. Happiness will come after I successfully swim the English Channel."
Aakansha's original plan was to swim the Gibraltar two-way, but poor weather conditions forced her into a one-way swim.
From Spain, Aakanksha has headed back for Dover in the UK with her coach Aarti Pradhan to attempt the English Channel swim which was on hold due to inclement weather conditions.
Ignoring a dark, cloudy weather and sea winds of about 12km/hr, a confident Aakanksha jumped into the icy waters at 13:08 hrs IST (08:08 a.m. Spanish Local Time) on September 10 at Tariffa, Spain.
Braving the tides that rose up to five meters and strong currents of 3.5 to 4 Knots from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean which were hitting her at a right angle and forcing her to drift towards the Atlantic Ocean, she reached Perriebiel Island en route in just one-and-a-half hours.
Further battling fierce currents and not allowing the forces of nature to throw her off her course, she proceeded towards the African coast and touched the Moroccan coast at 17:28 hrs IST (12:28 p.m. Spanish Local Time) to complete the entire swim of about 23 kms in 4 hours and 20 minutes.
Aakanksha was accompanied on the boat by coach Pradhan and a Red Cross representative. The route was navigated by the experienced Spanish Pilot, Antonio Montell. Aakanksha has been in the United Kingdom with her coach since June, practicing vigorously for the English Channel and Strait of Gibraltar swim. Earlier, on August 5, inclement weather held up Aakanksha's 'double' of swimming the English Channel and The Strait of Gibraltar.
Mishra, who was told to be prepared for an August 5 swim by the Channel Swimming Association, was warned not to venture into the sea following a tornado in the Spanish coast.
The contractual agreement for Aakanksha's English Channel swim was signed and she was allocated between August 8 and 15. But, following suitable weather conditions, the Channel Swim Association suggested the Vile Parle lass be prepared for an early swim on August 5.