The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Boat race revival for Hooghly swim fest

This is not about sport, but about preserving tradition. Sleek and colourful rowing boats — Annapurna of Ariadaha, Ma Manasha of Chatra and Lakshminarayan of Uttarpara — racing down the Hooghly, a familiar sight in the afternoons 40 years ago, will be brought back to life for a day at Ahiritola ghat in December to mark an international swimming competition.

“We have requested the four rowing clubs at the Lakes, and each has agreed to take part with two boats,” said competition organising committee chairperson and CPM legislator Sudhangshu Sil.

Rowing in the Hooghly will add nostalgia to the 14-km swimming competition, to be organised by Ahiritola Youth Swimming Club on December 21. The club membership can boast of English Channel swimmers like Brojendra Nath Das, Arati Saha, Masadur Rahman and Bula Chowdhury.

This is the 29th year of the competition and recognition by the All-India Swimming Federation is on the cards. Sil said swimmers from Germany, Australia, Switzerland and Bangladesh will take part in the competition. The total number of participants will be 50.

The organising committee has also drawn up a grand plan to assemble schoolchildren on all the ghats on either side of the Hooghly, from Baro Mandir ghat at Panihati to Ahiritola ghat, during the competition.

The organisers, however, are facing a shortage of rescue boats and have decided to hire some from Balagarh, in Hooghly. By the rules, there should be a boat for each swimmer. A life-guard, a doctor and a volunteer will be on board the boat and will follow the swimmer.

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