Swimming contest held to pay tribute to Veer Savarkar

Mumbai, May 30 (IANS) A century after freedom fighter Veer Savarkar swam a long distance to escape from the clutches of the British, more than 200 swimmers from 13 districts of Maharashtra braved the Arabian Sea to swim a belt of 2.5 km to pay tribute to the revolutionary.

Swatantrayaveer Savarkar Rashtriya Smarak and the Amateur Aquatic Association organised a swimming competition to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s (popularly known as Veer Savarkar) ‘escape’ from the clutches of the British July 8, 1910.

The competition was organised more than a month in advance to avoid choppy seas in the monsoon.

As many as 212 swimmers in the age group of 10-40 years participated in the competition that started from the Bandra-Worli Sea Link in suburban Bandra and ended 2.5 km away at the beach in Dadar, close to the freedom fighter’s memorial.

The competition also saw participation of seven handicapped swimmers, along with a few women above 30 years of age.

Savarkar was arrested March 13, 1910, by the British olice for plotting an armed revolt against the Minto-Morley reforms of 1909.

He wrote letters to a close friend from the jail to plan his escape.

When the ship S.S. Morea reached the port of Marseilles July 8, 1910, Savarkar escaped through a porthole and dived into the water, swimming a long distance to the shore, but was arrested again.

‘The competition was organised to pay a tribute to this spirit of Veer Savarkar,’ an official of the Swatantrayaveer Savarkar Rashtriya Smarak said.

An enthusiastic participant said: ‘It was a great experience to swim the small stretch. Veer Savarkar swam much more than we did, 100 years back. This is a small gesture to appreciate his efforts for the freedom of our country.’

Also present at the event were Mumbai Mayor Shraddha Jadhav and Swatantryaveer Savarkar Rashtriya Smarak president Sudhakar Deshpande.