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The 11-year-old Kerala girl who swam across Vembanand Lake with hands cuffed

Laya B Nair

She is just 11 years old but she has performed the most adventurous feat in Kerala which even a grown up wouldn’t dare to do. Laya B Nair, daughter of Biju Thankapan and Sreekala C of Varappetty in Kothamangalam, swam non-stop across Vembanad Lake at Thaneermukam with her hands cuffed together.

She swam across the 4.5-km-wide Vembanad Lake, the largest in Kerala, starting from Cherthala in Alappuzha and finishing at Vaikom in Kottayam district. Laya is a sixth standard student of St Augustine’s School in Kothamangalam.

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For all those hundreds of onlookers, who witnessed the young girl swimming across the lake with her hands tied, they knew that the task wasn’t easy because Vembanad lake is known for its unpredictable under currents and huge waves that could really pose danger.

“I am ready for another attempt if my father says so. I never felt afraid. The only thing that worried me was the waves splashing my face,” Laya said after finishing the task with much ease. It was her father who started giving her swimming training right from the age of five. Biju, a physical education trainer by profession, used to train children in swimming at the local panchayat pond and he used to take her daughter along with him. Laya used to sit on the bank for hours watching how her father trained the children. One day she asked her father whether he could take her into the water.

“I was surprised when she asked. Though I was a little hesitant, I took her into the water. She started practicing the process of breath control in the water. After seeing her interest, I started to train her. She picked up very fast and within no time, she started to swim with me across Kuttampuzha river,” Biju told “Open Digest”.

It was on November 12 that Laya accomplished the feat and entered her name in the Guinness World of Records. “Many great swimmers have crossed the Vembanad Lake. But this is for the first time that an eleven-year-old girl is doing it, that too with her hands cuffed,” Biju said, adding that he decided to permit her daughter to take up the challenge to spread an awareness message in the society about the importance of learning swimming.

“Children must be taught how to swim. It’s a life saver. I am happy that a lot of parents are now sending their children to learn swimming. My elder daughter Chandini B Nair also knows very well to swim,” said Biju, who has given training to over thousands of children.

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