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This Andhra Super Cop is the 1st Indian to swim across Catalina Channel

Tulasi Chaitanya, the super cop from Vijayawada, has done it again. After bagging the gold medal at the World Police and Fire Games last month, the 31-year-old swam across the Catalina Channel in the United States, perhaps the first Indian cop to do so. Chaitanya, who swam for a cool 35 km-stretch in freezing temperatures on September 15, says achieving the feat was a “bittersweet” experience for him. 
 
“While I’m over the moon to have successfully swam across the Catalina Channel, it was not an easy task for me. I swam for 12 hours and 40 minutes at a stretch, with the water temperature below 18o C for the most part. When I got into the water, the temperature was 21o C, but it dipped to 18oC, then to 16o C and for the last two miles, it was 15o C. I almost gave up but mustered all my willpower to stay on track. It was the hardest thing I have ever done,” he says.
 
‘Alone at sea, I almost gave it all up midway’
 
As Tulasi began his attempt to enter the record books, there were observers from the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation who kept close vigil. “The observers closely watched my swim; if I got in contact with the boat, I would be disqualified. So they’d monitor me and tell me the direction I should be going in,” he says. 
 
“When the temperature touched 16 degrees, I started shivering uncontrollably. In the middle of the sea, with no one around me for miles, the thought of calling it quits played on my mind even as my body seemed to be giving up. The voice in my head urging me to give up was so loud that I almost thought of giving it all up and coming back home quietly. At one point, I even told myself, ‘It’s not like there’s a welcome party waiting back home. No one even knows you’ve taken this up, except for a handful of people and they will understand.’ These are tricks your mind plays on you when you are faced with soul-crushing exhaustion, I guess,” he says. 
 
‘Desire to become the first indian cop to conquer Catalina Channel kept me going’ 
 
Remarkably, Tulasi managed to pull himself together and finally, his deep desire to complete the Catalina challenge prevailed.“I was in the middle of the sea, cold to the bone and feeling sick. But somehow, one sliver of hope helped me pushed through. Despite all the noise in my head that tried to pull me down, the desire to become the first Indian policeman to achieve this feat, kept me going. Once that happened, the negative thoughts faded away and finally I reached the shore. And when I did, boy, was I glad I didn’t give up. It truly felt like I conquered Catalina,” he says.
 
The head constable with Vijayawada Police says he had planned to finish the swim in 10 hours, but got delayed by a couple of hours due to fatigue. “After the fourth hour, I had a banana. I couldn’t stop retching after that. It was extremely exhausting. After swimming for 12 hours straight with nothing but the sea around me, I felt like Matthew McConaughey from Interstellar. It felt like I went to a whole new world and came back.”
 
Though he’s back in Vijayawada now, he’s already preparing for more challenges. “I want to to attempt the English Channel next, as well as the 20 Bridges swim in Manhattan. Next year, I will also swim across Gibraltar Strait from Europe to Africa. The Pacific Ocean has a lot of dolphins, sea lions, orca and white sharks. Swimming with them is something I’m look forward to,” he says, signing off.

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