Happy birthday, Arati Saha: Google honours the first Asian woman to cross the English Channel with doodle

The Olympian celebrates her 80th birthday today.

Arati Saha: Google honours India's long distance swimmer and Olympian with a doodle
Google, on Thursday, celebrated swimmer Arati Saha's 80th birthday with a special doodle. The Olympian, born in 1940 in Calcutta, was the first Asian woman to swim across cross the English Channel. On 29 September 1959, the 18-year-old swam 42 miles from Cape Gris Nez in France to Sandgate, England, to achieve the feat. This remarkable victory came a month after Saha's her first attempt to cross the English Channel was unsuccessful just 5 miles away from England's coast.

Saha's victory's began early in life; having learned to swim on the banks of the Hooghly River at the age of 4, she won her first gold medal for swimming a year later.

Google, in a blog post said, "her precocious skill in the water soon attracted the mentorship of one of India’s top competitive swimmers, Sachin Nag."


"A record-setting prodigy by just 11 years old, Saha became the youngest member (and one of only four women) on the first team to represent the newly independent India in the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland," it added in the blog post.

Saha tied the knot with Dr. Arun Gupta in 1959, months after creating history.

She was honoured with a postage stamp by The Department of Posts in 1999.
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The doodle, to honour the first woman to be awarded the Padma Shri in 1960, is illustrated by Kolkata-based artist Lavanya Naidu, who called Saha a "household name growing up."

Naidu said she drew inspiration for the doodle from Saha's most celebrated achievement and "definitely wanted to portray that milestone in it."
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