This Chennai boy conquers Palk Strait – and autism | Madurai News

MADURAI: It was no mean feat for 16-year-old Haresh Barath Mohan from Thiruvanmiyur in Chennai when he swam the 32-km Palk Strait from Talaimannar in Sri Lanka to Dhanushkodi in Rameswaram on Saturday. The boy who suffers from autism spectrum disorder crossed the stretch in 11 hours and 52 minutes taking only short breaks to hydrate himself.
Haresh began the swimming expedition at 11.37pm from Talaimannar and reached Dhanushkodi at 11.29am on Saturday. His mother Nirmala Devi said they thought the sea would be calmer, but it turned out to be windy. Haresh is the second child with autism to cross Palk Strait in open swimming in recent years after Jiya Rai. The 13-year-old Mumbai girl had swum the stretch in March last year.
Nirmala Devi said her son was diagnosed with autism when he was one and a half years old. Swimming was one of the activities recommended for autistic children to reduce their hyperactivity. Haresh, whose father Barath Mohan is an engineer in Kazakhstan, loved water as a child and used to spend a lot of time swimming.
“Nevertheless, he could not participate in any swimming competition because he could not understand the concept of competition but he had very good stamina. So we decided to train him for long hours of swimming,” Nirmala Devi said.
On Saturday, the family expected Haresh to finish the swim within seven to eight hours but it took almost 12 hours to complete the expedition due to the wind. He kept swimming non-stop except for the short breaks to hydrate himself with tender coconut water, said Nirmala Devi.
The boy received a certificate from Asia Book of Records for the feat.

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