Autistic children create record, swim 165 km

| | Chennai
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Autistic children create record, swim 165 km

Monday, 19 February 2024 | PTI | Chennai

Having Autism Spectrum disorder (ASD) did not appear to be a setback to a motley group of children who achieved a rare feat of swimming 165 km in the sea from Cuddalore to Chennai recently.

Accompanied by their trainers in boats, as a precaution, the determined 14 children aged 9 to 19 scripted history when they swam the coastal areas in a sea swimming expedition covering an unprecedented 165 kilometers from Cuddalore to Chennai in relay format over 4 days. In the process they created a “world record,” Sathish Sivakumar, founder and head coach of Yadhavi Sports Academy for Special Needs, said.

“I am immensely proud of each child’s resilience and determination. This sea swimming expedition by 14 children in the autism spectrum goes beyond a physical accomplishment. It is a symbol of breaking stereotypes and embracing the capabilities of every individual, regardless of neurodiversity,” he said.

ASD is a neurological and developmental disorder that affects the people’s communication with others. This is caused by differences in the brain. The affected individuals may also have different ways of learning, moving, or paying attention.

“Among the participants, three children swam continuously for 17 km while a girl swam for 10 km at a stretch. They demonstrated that their disability could not be a setback to display their ability to the world,” Tamil Nadu’s former Director General of Police C Sylendra Babu, who felicitated the children upon their arrival, said.

The young talented swimmers were given medals and certificates in recognition of their remarkable “world record” in sea swimming expedition covering 165 km, he said. “Today, they proudly stand as testament to the power of perseverance and the ability to break barriers,” Sivakumar said.

The awe-inspiring journey commenced on February 1 at Silver Beach, Cuddalore, covering 5 districts, and it captured the hearts of onlookers as these incredible young swimmers navigated the challenging waters, showcasing not only their swimming prowess but also challenging societal perceptions about autism.

The expedition concluded at Marina Beach here on February 4 and they were accorded a warm reception at the finishing point by Sylendra Babu, Yadhavi Sports Academy members, and others.

The expedition aimed to highlight the potential of individuals with autism and to sensitise people on the importance of inclusivity and understanding of such people.

The Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu extended its support to the expedition. The successful completion marked a significant milestone in promoting autism awareness and fostering a more inclusive society at a world-level.

The children’s triumphant return to Chennai Marina was not just the end of a challenging journey; it’s the beginning of a new chapter in advocating for inclusivity and empowerment, the organisers said.

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