Thu, Feb 24, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Boy, 11, braves rough seas to swim Cook Strait

DPA , WELLINGTON

A tiny 11-year-old Indian boy has become the youngest person to swim Cook Strait separating New Zealand's north and south islands and recognized as one of the roughest stretches of water in the world, it was revealed yesterday.

Aditya Raut, from Pune, who weighs just 43kg, battled 2m high waves to swim the 26km strait in nine hours and nine minutes on Monday.

Veteran New Zealand marathon swimmer Philip Rush, who coordinated the swim which has been completed by fewer than 60 people, told Radio New Zealand it was an amazing feat and the boy had shown great determination in tough conditions.

He said tides had forced the boy to cover about 40km in rough seas that made his parents sick the whole way, as they accompanied him in a support boat.

Rush told Wellington's Dominion Post newspaper: "A lot of people would have pulled out. It was a calculated risk with the weather, but it paid off."

Rush said the swim was not publicized earlier because they did not want to put the pressure of media attention on the boy who had wanted to swim Cook Strait since he was nine.

His father, Santosh Raut, told the newspaper the crossing was "very horrible, very rough and windy."

He said: "I've never seen such sea before. If I had seen it before, I might have made the decision not to go."

He said his son had swum 71km in the Indian Ocean and his coach Vinay Marathe said he had trained between two and 12 hours a day as a lead-up to his effort.

The boy, who speaks little English, said he had only one thought during the swim: "I think about just doing it and how fast I can go."

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