Kumarakom: Malu Sheikh conquered the Vembanad Lake and how. The 20-year-old girl swam across the lake from Kumarakom to Muhamma on Sunday, becoming the first female swimmer to cross the lake at its widest stretch.
The girl from Edayar near Aluva has eclipsed the achievement of three sisters from Aymanam in 2003. Jonsy, Josna and Joyci had crossed the lake at its narrowest stretch connecting Kannankari to Vechur to highlight the need to protect the lake. Josna had earned a medal in the Asian Games.
Malu, who swam continuously for four hours and 20 minutes to cover the 8 kilometer stretch that ran along the Kumarakom-Muhamma waterway, said she wanted to create awareness about swimming. She started at 7:20 am from the premises of the local church at Kumarakom and reached Muhamma at 11:40 am.
In 2015, Thayyil Baburaj, a differently abled person from Kainakari, crossed the stretch in three hours.
Malu was accompanied by her trainer Saji Valassery. She said she could achieve this feat only because of the excellent training she received. The B Com graduate has been preparing for this laudable task for six months.
Malu, who works as an adviser with the United India Insurance Company at Aluva, has been training with Saji in the Periyar River. She said she plans to pursue an M Com degree.
Saji is an accomplished trainer who has over 800 students to his credit. Of them, about 250 swimmers had crossed the Periyar River, including the visually impaired Navaneeth, differently abled Krishna S Kamath and five-year-old Nivedita.
Malu’s shot at glory was flagged off by district panchayat member Jayesh Mohan at Kumarakom. She was received at Muhamma by panchayat vice president Maya Maju. Several youth associations were also there to cheer the swimmer. E S Sujeendran was the program convener.