Maana Patel: First Indian Women To Swim Her Way Through Olympics


“How will a girl perform in sports? Can she run fast enough? Does she have that much stamina? Shouldn’t she focus on her studies and getting married? What can she even do in this sport? Sports are not for girls.” Every girl who has tried to devote a significant amount of her time to sports or any extra-curricular activity has had to face a society that keeps questioning her potential. But the time has come when girls choose to focus more on moving forward and keeping their heads higher than on the distant murmurings of the unsupportive things that society chooses to say.

Introducing you to Maana Patel, a 21-year-old Indian who has become the first female swimmer ever to have participated in the Tokyo Olympics and represent our prestigious country India. She is thriving proof that girls are capable of a lot more than most people think them to be.


Maana Patel is an Indian backstroke swimmer from Ahmedabad, Gujarat, and was born on March 8, 2000. She studied business at the Udgam School for Children in Ahmedabad. She was only seven years old when she got herself enrolled in a swimming camp. She then recognized her genuine passion and motivation, which prompted her to pursue professional training. Mr Kamlesh Nanavati taught and trained her at the Gujarat Vidyapeeth Swimming Centre. Peter Carswell is now training and coaching her at the Glenmark Aquatic Foundation in Mumbai.


Maana Patel began swimming at the age of seven. She beat Shikha Tandon’s national record of 2:26.41s in the 200m backstrokes at the Asian Age Group Championship in Tokyo in August 2009 when she was 13 and recorded 2:23.41s in the 40th Junior National Aquatics Championship in Hyderabad. Patel has also won gold medals at the National Games in the 50-metre backstroke and 200-metre backstroke.

At the 60th National School Games (2015), Maana broke the national backstroke record by winning a gold medal in the 100-metre backstroke. Maana Patel, Rashi Patel, Gitanjali Pandey, and Dilpreet Kaur won silver in the 4X100 metre freestyle relay at the 60th National School Games.

Patel’s achievements do not just end here. She has achieved umpteenth medals that go way back in time. In 2015, she got chosen for the Olympic Gold Quest. In addition to this, she bagged a silver medal in 50-metre, 100-metre and 200-metre backstrokes, she also bagged a bronze medal in the 50-metre freestyle, a gold medal in the 4100 meters freestyle relay; and bronze in the 4100-meters medley relay at the 12th South Asian Games in the year 2016.


Maana Patel has created new headlines in the history pages by becoming the first Indian female swimmer to qualify for and compete in the world’s greatest sports event with a university quota.

Although she couldn’t secure the first position in the Women’s 100-metre backstroke, she gave a remarkable performance and finished 2nd in the race. She ended with a timing of 1.05.20, but Katai from Zimbabwe excelled in the 100-metre backstroke and got qualified for the Tokyo Olympics 2020 semi-finals.


Swimming is not the only thing that defines Maana Patel. She is also an excellent speaker who confidently speaks about her beliefs and notions.

Maana Patel was once a speaker at TedxYouth@MGIS in 2020, where she shared her concept of Vision Beyond Winning. She discussed the ups and downs of her swimming career. Maana focused on how she battled with sorrow after suffering a labrum rupture in her left shoulder. As a result, she was unable to play in some of the most important games, including the Junior Nationals and the World Championship.

In addition to this, she is also a free-spoken supporter of the animal community and their rights. She feeds stray dogs on a regular basis and has even saved the lives of many of them by giving life-saving medicines.  

Maana Patel beautifully sets an example for a society that girls are not just pretty, but powerful as well. She is the ultimate proof that girls can be great swimmers, girls can be ambitious, girls can love sports, and girls can conquer everything they set their hearts and eyes on. She proves that their radiance is so bright and thunderous that no number of clouds will ever be enough to block it from shining.

Written By-

Karuna Arora
19 years old
Indirapuram, UP

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