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Avantika Singhal

Teen JWB Curator/Blogger

17 YO Swimmer Riya Singhal Splashes Out Shark-Pool Training Memories

  • JWB Post
  •  August 26, 2016


If you were to ask the 10-year old me what her favorite hobbies are, she’d reply effortlessly and instantly – “Swimming.

I know it is shocking since 18-year old me is shaking her head in disdain.

I really liked to swim when I was a kid but never made it to any competition but someone I know did! Meet my school friend, Riya Singhal from MGD Girls’ School, Jaipur who did more than just flip and dip in our school pool. She was selected for CBSE Swimming Nationals and has won over 50 medals in inter and intra-school competitions. 

At what age did you start swimming and what motivated you?

I started swimming when I was two. My father introduced me to it since he is also a state level swimmer. My mother, on the other hand, was terrified of my sudden interest in this sport. She hails from Surat, and the way they teach you to swim there (they THROW you in the pool) is completely different from what they teach you here. She was scared of what would happen to me in the pool. Good for Mom, because I taught her to swim and won her fear.

Any experiences from swimming competitions that will be amusing to hear?

Oh yes! We would frequently swim with tadpoles. The trick is always to swim fast if you want to avoid that tiny animal or the accumulating algae in the pool. In my childhood, I remember my coach telling me to swim faster than ever because if I didn’t, ‘sharks’ would devour me alive. Lie or not, it helped.

Riya switched from Science in school to studying designing in college. This transition surprised all.

You studied Science in school, and you switched to interior designing in college. Why?

I get asked this question more times than you can imagine. Yes, I am pursuing interior designing from Parsons, Mumbai now. In school, I chose to study Science because I was passionate for Physics. But the human mind is fickle, and soon, I started to develop an interest in architecture. I would also go to an Art Institute in Jaipur here, and it somehow reinforced that interior designing was something I wanted to do. There’s a difference between architecture and interior designing, by the way.

How supportive were your parents when you switched your subjects?

VERY supportive! My mother and father are responsible for making me the person I am today. Because they did not force me to deviate from my goals or desires. Even when other relatives of my family would question my decision, they would resolutely counterattack – “It is her interest. What is your problem with that?’. That really helped me to be certain of what I wanted to pursue in college.

Any advice for little girls who are as crazy about swimming as you are?

Just keep swimming, okay? If you love it, then do it! My college is not very supportive of swimming, and I miss it more than anything in this world. I was so fond of the thrill I would get by moving my body in the water that I can do anything to relive those moments in all the competitions I went to. The best part would be the cheers that would rise from my whole school. Their relentless cheers pushed me forward in the water. Of course, I could not hear their motivating words under water, but when I would emerge out, their pride in me lifted my spirits immensely.

Any role model you looked up to?

Sunita Ma’am who is a coach in MGD Girls’ School. I have been around her ever since I was a toddler. She also invited me to be her apprentice a.k.a coach in school for three months right after I passed out from school. It was my first job, and it was incredible.

During my time there, I organized the Inter-house Aquatic meet in the school and also choreographed synchronized swimming. The highlight was being called ‘Ma’am.’ It was just the best feeling when my juniors looked up to me as an inspiration.

Things you like doing other than swimming?

I like eating, a lot! Sketching calms me down as well. I am also a state-level badminton player. Just before you called, I was trying to draw a bottle because I am really not good at drawing complex shapes!

Well, Riya, I would love it if you go back to drawing your bottle! This girl has been such a go-getter throughout the school. One thing that I really admire about her is how ready she is for everything. She can face defeat with fortitude shining brightly in her eyes. She is quick, sincere and fun loving!

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