The brave man is not he who does not fear, but he who conquers it. This adage is true for young Mohsin Fayaz Shah who not only overcame his childhood fear of water but took a bigger stride and became the first Kashmiri to swim 16 kilometers in just seven hours and twelve minutes.
Hailing from Ahmda Kadal, Lal Bazaar area in Srinagar, Mohsin swam 16 kilometers in 16 laps in open water, each lap consisting of 1.1 km in Nigeen Lake Srinagar
To overcome his fear of water Shah joined ‘Swim N Survival Society’ in August 2020.
“Initially I was scared of water, would never go close to it but this haunted me a lot seeing other children swim, instilled in me passion for swimming,” Mohsin told Rising Kashmir.
He learned swimming and finished 10.176 Km in 4hrs 30 minutes and 44 secs in August 2021 in Nigeen Lake. He also trained for Fin-swimming, and participated in nationals in Faridabad and eventually became the first Kashmiri in August 2022, who achieved the unique feat.
The 24-year-old graduated from SMVDU with B.Tech in Electronics and Communication in 2021. He is currently serving as Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) Engineer in Vipro Private Limited Bangalore and is a long-distance fin swimmer of Kashmir.
“Swimming is one of the sports activities which I liked most since my childhood. But owing to my fear of water I would not go close to it.”
It was during the height of covid-19 pandemic in 2020 when he heard about a group who trained youngsters in swimming in Nigeen Lake.
He says he approached his friends and got to know about ‘Swim and Survival Society’.
“In August 2020, I met swimming expert Riyaz Wani, and members of the Society, who allowed me to join classes that helped me to overcome fear of water, and just after a week, I completed1 km in Nigeen lake,” he said.
“On August 21, 2020, I dove for the first time into Nageen Lake, with proper life-saving equipment and life jacket as my initial instinct was to overcome fear of water, which I overcame within four days under guidance of experts,” he said.
After learning the basics of swimming, he started working on improving swimming techniques, choosing freestyle as primary stroke style, learning treading in water, belly-up floating, arm, leg action, controlling breath, and breathing techniques during swimming.
“I restarted swimming in May 2021. Coach Riyaz Wani introduced me to concepts like long-distance swimming and fin swimming. I started training hard and swam 2-3 kms on a daily basis.”
On August 22, 2021, he made his first attempt at long-distance swimming and swam 10 kms successfully, finishing in 4 hours and 30 minutes.
“I swam a distance of 10.176 Km in 4:30:44, for which I received multiple awards of appreciation at SKICC on International Mountain Day on Dec 11, 2021,” he said.
In September 2021, he participated in national competition for fin swimming in Faridabad.
“The competition turned out to be a great experience for me in the sport and during this period, I learned survival skills, canoeing, rafting with ‘Swim n Survival society’,”
About this unique feat, the Srinagar athlete said he started his swim at 06:15 am along with technical observer and swimming expert Yasir Makhdoomi on 28 August 2022 in Nigeen Lake, covering a distance of over 16.02 km in just 7 hours and 12 minutes.
Swimming expert Riyaz Wani said by completing 16 kilometers Mohsin became first swimmer of UT to complete such a long distance in just 7.12 hours
“The whole distance was recorded by Garmin Fenix 6x, a GPS-based technology device (watch) used for measuring distance covered by sportspersons,” he said.
The long-distance swimmer Mohsin says his goal was to swim 20kms, however, the medical team didn't allow him to proceed after 16kms due to certain changes in weather resulting in turbulence in the lake.
Secretary ‘Swim N Survival Society’ - Kashmir Yasir Makhdoomi hailed Mohsin for the feat.
"It's an achievement for UT in general and the Society in particular as Mohsin has been into swimming for the past two years only," he said.