Swimming sensation Ritheek | Sunday Observer

Swimming sensation Ritheek

Quick silver in water – that is Ritheek Silva-swimming sensation. He streaked across the swimming pool so fast that our photographer had to work hard to capture him on camera. Ritheek powered his way through the water with strokes that were incisive, clean and strong. Youth Observer saw him training for ‘Killer Whale Aquatics’ at the CR and FC pool.

A grade10 student at the Overseas School of Colombo, Ritheek started swimming competitively at the school pool when he was 11 –years- old. “I have always been drawn to water and I love the ocean”, says Ritheek. “My friends were swimmers and they encouraged me to join, it seemed like a fun so I thought I’d join.’’

In those initial days young Ritheek did not realise the enthralling pull the water would have on him. But soon what he stared as a ‘fun hobby’ became a passion and ‘he dived head first’ into swimming. His first strokes were guided by Stanley, the trainer at OSC who was also a life guard. Within one year and at the age of twelve Ritheek was swimming for the OSC swim team.

Ritheek’s ever first competitive meet was the South Asia International Scholastic Association Meet also known as SAISA in 2015 which was held in Oman. Thereafter, Ritheek has represented the Overseas School Colombo at every SAISA swimming.

It was the encouragement and support of his friends that was the catalyst for Ritheek to take up competitive swimming.

At his very first International Meet Ritheek won the bronze medal in the 50 metre freestyle and was also a member of the 4x50metre freestyle relay team which also bagged the bronze medal.

At the 2019 SAISA held from the 15-20 October in Kathmandu, Nepal Ritheek struck gold in the 100 metre and 200 metre individual medley races and in the 50 metres and 100 metre freestyle won 2 silver medals. Ritheek also won the gold in the 50 metre butterfly and won silver in the 100 metre butterfly.

Ritheek set a meet record of 1:03.20 in the 100 meters individual medley.

The Overseas School team set meet records for the 4x50 meter freestyle relay at SAISA 2019.

Ritheek’s tally of medals to date is truly impressive. His tally is 14 gold, 21 silver and 7 bronze.

In 2019 Ritheek had the distinction of being chosen as ‘The Most Valuable Athlete in the School Team’.

Ritheek joined Manoj Abeysinghe’s ‘Killer Whale Aquatics’ in 2016 and has represented Killer Whales at National, Open, Short Course and at Age Group Nationals

Joining Killer Whales Aquatics has given great impetus to Ritheek’s swimming. Not only has he improved his technique and speed under the experienced guidance of Manoj Abeysinghe and his team of coaches but has picked up life values to enhance his life.

“I have learnt commitment, dedication and also gained more self-confidence in myself” said Ritheek.

Being a swimming sensation is not easy for a teenager. It is a tough balancing act to give due attention to studies and intense swimming practice. But Ritheek does it.

From Monday to Saturday it is strenuous swimming practice in the early morning and evening. Twice weekly gym sessions are also mandatory.

He is an Honour Roll student at the Overseas School Colombo and biology, literature and the visual Arts are among the subjects he will be offering for his International Baccalaureate (IB Diploma) .They are also his favourite subjects.

Due to early morning swimming training (5.30 a.m. – 7.30a.m.) his school has allowed Ritheek to go to school half an hour late (8 a.m.) providing his grades are kept up.

Ritheek is very grateful to his Principal, the staff and the school management for this concession and works hard at keeping his grades up and not breaking their trust and faith in him.

He enjoys writing reports, analysing texts and on the whole enjoys studying.

He is a keen artist and sketches and paints. Working with acrylics and water colours he brings nature, animals and people to life on canvas. Line drawing too is another form of his artistic self-expression.

Photography is another of his pastimes and Ritheek uses an EOS 800 Cannon camera to capture memorable moments when hanging out with friends and family as well as beautiful scenery, animals and anything else which catches his fancy.

When it comes to holidays it is the coastal belt of Sri Lanka which holds the most attraction for this water baby of a teen. “I love watching the ocean and derive much pleasure and peace from doing so”.

Ritheek went to a NIKE peak performance swim training camp in California in 2017 and 2018. They were summer camps held in June. While at camp in 2017 Ritheek visited the University of Stanford and is highly taken up with the system of education followed there.

“Stanford has a well-balanced curriculum which accommodates academic work and sports and other extracurricular activities. I want to be surrounded by brilliant minds and want to be pushed to think outside the box and believe the university of Stanford will be able to offer that too me”. This is what a highly impressed Ritheek said.

Ritheek has made many sacrifices for the sake of swimming. He has a high protein diet and avoids food that teens generally go for like pizza, fizzy drinks and gallons of ice cream. He does relax his rules where diet is concerned sometimes but these are generally few and far between.

He considers it very important to maintain friendships in life and strives to hang out with friends whenever possible. But with his hectic swimming and academic schedule Sunday and holidays are his only free times.

Ritheek’s future ambitions are to represent Sri Lanka at the World Swimming Championships and become an orthopedic surgeon. He hopes to enter The University of Stanford to read for his MBBS.

This promising young swimmer is very thankful to all who have helped him reach the top in swimming including Stanley his first trainer and especially to Manoj Abeysinghe and his team who have really helped propel him to the top in swimming.

Above all Ritheek acknowledges with loving gratitude his mother and his father Raynor Silva. “They provide me everything necessary and are there for me always and are also present at my meets to cheer me on.”

Ritheek Silva is a well-balanced teenager who has his priorities right and feet firmly planted in reality. Success has not gone to his head. With all these attributes Ritheek is sure to go far and the Youth Observer wishes him the best of luck!

(Pix by Ranjith Asanka)

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