Rajkot: Twenty-years-old Dipali Mungalpara has become the first swimmer from Gujarat's conservative Saurashtra region to compete abroad. The final-year college student finished second in the 26-kilometer marathon in Zurich in 2001, an effort that took her over nine and a half hours. The feat prompted the Gujarat government to give her the 2004 Eklavya Award. Family matters "I started swimming when I was a child because I liked being in water. Thanks to the encouragement from my parents and coach, I took it more seriously," said Deepali, who has been given the title of Jalpari by a local organization. Dipali credits her parents for her success, as they defied Rajkot's conservative environment where swimming is not much of an option for girls. In-fact, her father always accompanies her for the swimming events, and says that's his way of expressing the family's unstinting support for the young girl. "We've never made any distinction between a boy and a girl. She's always been allowed to do whatever she chooses," said Mansukhbhai Patel, Dipali's father. Dipali has been made brand ambassador for a local dairy, and has been Saurashtra University's swimming champ for the last three years running. She's now keen to take on a more competitive field as she prepares for the 2005 Nationals, an event she's never won earlier.
Topics : Swimming