At the age of 76 not many will have the luck of leading a healthy life but those who have are sure to make the most of it by engaging themselves in one or the other activity. For a person to learn swimming at an advanced age is not new but the person whom we are about to introduce here has been an inspiration for younger generation. He is none other than Sundar Basappa, a cable operator, who has mastered the art of swimming late in his life.
Having settled in Mysuru since 1990, Sundar has been leading a contented life with his wife Ambika at their house in Vivekanandanagar. Sundar was working for an MNC which dealt with electric transmission and distribution. At a time when the Cauvery issue erupted during the 90s, he decided to shift to Mysuru from Coimbatore as per the suggestions of his relatives.
On his arrival in Mysuru, Sundar started a small business of setting up local cable network which became a hit. While everything seemed to be going well for Sundar, suddenly he developed complications in his spinal cord owing to compression of L3 and L4 discs. The doctors who operated upon him imposed several restrictions including riding two-wheelers.
Sundar had to rest for around six months and gained a lot of weight with no physical activities. The trouble did not end here as he developed complications in his heart and underwent angioplasty and was advised three-month rest again. He underwent an open heart surgery in 2008 and again was advised rest. Though active throughout, Sundar had to stop his physical activities owing to medical complications.
Fortunately, after a few days Sundar was advised to take up physical exercises based on which the septuagenarian took to swimming. “I knew the basics of swimming since I used to swim in a lake as a child. But later I never got an opportunity to continue swimming and suddenly getting back to it was difficult,” says Sundar.
However, it was former swimming coach of Mysore University M.P. Nabhiraj who helped Sundar get back to swimming. Puttaswamy, also a swimming coach, helped him grow to a competitive level. Initially, he used to take four breaks while swimming 50 mts stretch. After practicing for a few months, he picked up speed and was advised to take part in district-level swimming competition for senior citizens. On winning the competition, he qualified for the State-level swimming in Bengaluru during 2011 and won three gold medals which was his first ever. He also won a silver medal in the national -level meet held in Bengaluru the same year.
In 2015, he took part in the National Masters Swimming Competition in Madhya Pradesh and won a silver medal. His medal-winning spree continued last year with him winning three gold in breaststroke 50 mts, backstroke 50 mts and 100 mts at the National-level Master’s Swimming competition in Telangana.
Sundar, who has fully recovered from his ailments, now, practices swimming for one hour every day and can swim half-a-kilometer in an hour.
He also aspires to represent the country in an international meet organised for Master Swimmers.
One specialty of Sundar is that he always hangs out with people younger to him as he believes that it would help him feel young and energetic. He also advises people to take up swimming for a healthy living. If a 76-year-old can take to swimming and achieve great feats, why not youngsters?
– By S.N. Venkatnag Sobers