SLAF swimmer who set a world record to swim across the Palk Strait | Sunday Observer

SLAF swimmer who set a world record to swim across the Palk Strait

25 April, 2021

His abode is within the sight of the sea. His ears hearthe sound of the breaking of the waves. The blue water, kissing shore is his glimpse. Dwelling near by the sea since childhood, his love has frequently been with the sea water; known to him is its beauty as well as that of its danger. He swims as if it were his way of life. He is none but Corporal Roshan Abeysundara of the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) whose excellence and remarkable versatility in swimming made the island proud while making him the prestigious world record holder to have swam across the Palk Strait in the least time.

In an interview with the Sunday Observer, Roshan declared that his dismay over the constant and ever growing pollution of both the sea and the beach by the reckless disposal of polythene and plastic has consequently motivated his inner soul to be part and parcel in the event of fighting against the environmental degradation; notably the unheeded occurrence in the pollution within the beach and the sea. He further said that such eventualities paved the way for him to set an example of a promoter who extends the assistance and contribution towards a shining and picturesque beach which robes the eyes of the onlookers; and thus persuaded him to swim across the Palk Strait.

It is true that the accumulation of plastic in the seas and beaches has become a grave global crisis. Approximately 40% of the world’s ocean surfaces are forced to carry billions of pounds of plastic. It is projected that by 2050, the existing rate of plastic would overweight every fish in the sea. The researchers declare that not a single square mile of ocean surface from the equator to the poles is found without plastic.

Currently, the floating plastic debri is considered to be the most destructive and the widely available marine litter. Roshan worries over the feculence and dirtiness on the beach while being genuinely concerned on its cleanliness. Meanwhile, in all the continents plastic is seen being dumped on the shorelines; a considerable quantity of plastic is frequently found near the popular tourist destinations and within the densely populated areas.

Barely at 12 years, while being a student at the Matara Central College Roshan’s odyssey of swimming came off the carpet. He fondly declared his cheerful reminiscence on his establishment of the under 14 national record. He notes that his joining the SLAF in 2008 was a major and fruitful breakthrough which opened an array of novel avenues and opportunities where his knack and intrinsic ability of swimming got strengthened.

He gratefully appreciated the enormous encouragement and assistance extended to him by Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana, the commander of the SLAF. He also did not fail to have a mention on Air Commodore S. N Fernandopulle, Director Sports, SLAF for the kind words of encouragement.

Roshan highlighted that following the humanitarian operation, he got selected into the SLAF swimming pool. He is also a swimming instructor at SLAF. He has also been a regular participant at open water events, competing two mile sea swim, annually organised by the Mount Lavinia hotel. Also he notes that he owns the 2014 Sri Lanka national level age group 4 meters and 2 meters swimming record. Commenting on his most crucial and historical record breaking event, he noted that he took the initiative in approaching with this specific highly talked about event while being based at the SALF base Anuradhapura.

He further said that during the run-up to the world, record he initially managed to establish a Sri Lankan record to have swam 25 kilometers in 10 hours and 34 minutes which later on he himself broke to have swam 49 kilometers in 23 hours. His record breaking adventurous swimming expedition got started at the crack of dawn around the 2.30 a.m. on the 10th of April 2021 from the Thalaimannar, Urumale Jetty, from where he swam up to Danushkodi in India, within 10 hours and 37 minutes. Afterwards, on the April 11 around 08.00 a.m. in the morning Roshan started to swim back to the starting point in the island which he completed within 28:44:37 across the Palk Strait. He also said that the former record holder was V S Kumar Anandan whose record was established in 1971 within 51 hours.

He did not fail to thank K W Yasarathna of the Polhena aquatic club who is his head coach. Roshan says that he is indebted to Dr. Wiranjith Thamugala, the proprietor of Ouro Lanka Private Ltd for the financial support extended in this endeavor. He affectionately recollects the unending love and kindness given by Nandasena Abeysundara and Mrs. Sriyani Sayakkarage, the parents, Ms. K M M Wijerathna, the spouse, the two siblings and the two young offsprings.

Last but not least Roshan highlighted on the enormous threat posed by plastics and ploythene on the ocean health, human health and costal tourism. Ingestion, suffocation and the entanglement of thousands of marine species are contributed by the careless and unlawful disposal of plastic into the beach and the sea. In that light he wishes to extend his cooperation for an event where at least a considerable number of dustbins are made available at the beaches of Polhena, Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna where polythene and plastic could be safely disposed.