Natasha Patnaik from Hyderabad is all set to participate in the under 17 years’ category at the World School Games to be held from April 20-25 in Budapest, Hungary. The 14-year-old swimmer is the only girl from South India who will be representing India in Budapest.
Natasha fell in love with swimming when she was just 9-year-old. Under the guidance of her coach John Siddiqui she has competed in Junior and Senior Nationals, winning gold, silver and bronze medals at the Nationals School Games previously.
The swimming star says she is ecstatic about representing India on an International platform. She proudly adds “At 14, it’s a huge honour for me to be going there and representing my country. I’ve already been given a team India jersey. The trials were organised by School Games Federation of India last Sunday in Pune, and the participants who won the maximum number of points were selected — I got the most. However, I know that there will be intense competition in World School Games and I’m prepared to give my best.”
“Ever since I took up swimming as a kid, the feeling that I get when I’m underwater is incomparable to anything else. That’s when I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” says Natasha when asked about her love for swimming.
Natasha gets her inspiration from the Hungarian swimmer who is a three-time Olympic Champion Katinka Hooszu. Confident Natasha says “I’m confident about winning at the World School Games, but I think it’s the experience that matters to me more than the results. I want to participate in more Junior and Senior Nationals when I come back in order to learn more. My goal is to win at the 2020 Summer Olympics,”
When asked about the challenges she faces, she said “It’s become difficult to manage swimming and studying. History and biology are my favourite subjects, and I don’t want to give up studying. It all comes down to managing your passions.”
Natasha trains for close to six hours daily, which includes swimming and exercising to stay fit. “My parents have been my biggest support. Without my mother’s encouragement, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve so much,” says Natasha. Her mother Madhurima adds, “I’m proud of her dedication and determination at this age. She sacrifices a lot of other things to make time to swim and study.”