Are we blind not to see this Talent?
Mrs. Hira Pande
Mr. Dyaneshwar Pande
Proudly says ‘imd1’ for
An international level female swimmer, Kanchanmala Pande, is someone whom the entire nation is definitely proud of. Eyesight is not really important once you have the VISION!! In spite of being a blind swimmer, Kanchanmala has competed with several sighted swimmers and has won various times. Apart from being a participant in numerous tournaments, she holds a Limca record in sea swimming.
Team imd1 had the privilege to speak to Kanchanmala. Her story has an essence of how hard work and persistence can help one overcome disability. She left no stone unturned by proving her potential at every opportunity she came across. She is an inspiration to millions of visually impaired as well as people lacking vision. Read to know about her journey in depth...
We are really keen to know, how did your journey begin?
I started swimming at the age of 10 simply as an exercise and learnt it in just 8 days.I gradually started participating in swimming competitions. The thought of competition was opposed by people at first but I moved on. I started competing with children having normal eyesight within 2 months. My coach Mr. Mangesh Vyavhare took up the challenge to finetune my swimming against all odds of the society and even of my own family.
Quote for Life
Swimming pool is like a battlefield. Struggle is the way to face life
Food I love
Food I hate
Had I not been into Swimming then
I"d have been a Basketball player
Like Vacations at
Favorite Pass time
Chak de India, Madhumati
Aamir Khan, Kajol
What’s your success mantra?
I believe, no one should have an aimless life. There should be a task plan for each day. Planning your perseverance leads to real success!
What were the hurdles you encountered and the way you overcame them in your journey?
Being blind was the biggest and the first hurdle but, through rigorous practice I was able to overcome it. At much higher levels of the competitions, political hurdles were many. Pressure is another big hurdle. Getting a gold medal for the team, fulfilling everyone"s expectations and many other thoughts keep running into your mind. But, having focus on your game is the secret to winning it.
As a small town girl, I had challenges in getting sponsorships. Being at Amravati, I didn’t have fancy privileges of professional nutritionists too. I am still happy that I could manage!
Success is incomplete without its share of failures. How should one overcome them to move on?
At the age of 15, I was unable to win in a competition and was very upset. Thanks to my coach and his encouragement towards practice, I could overcome this. For the world, abled and disabled are very different. Yet, it is important to focus on winning. After that upset moment of losing, the practice and focus to win led me to the Gold medal in the same year.
Do you think Swimming and its learnings can be helpful in life even if one does not want to consider it as a career goal?
Yes, certainly. Swimming can be a life saver at times for your life and maybe others too. It is also a useful exercise.
Who has been your influencer in this journey & how?
Ian Thorpe"s struggle has made me very confident of swimming over the years. Need to also mention here about my guide & supporter Prashant Karmakar (Arjuna Awardee) whom I also consider as my brother. He has been very supportive. Seeing them struggle and yet moving on helped me to get better at the sport with practice.
Which was “that” moment when you considered yourself as “I am the 1”?
In Malaysia, I was performing under pressure. I knew I had to meet everyone"s expectations. I won the gold medal. In Malaysia Para, India did not win any medals, and there where expectation from me and i had to compete with world. I swam so fast and with all the mental pressure to win that i made me so tired that was I not even able to come out myself and stand properly, but I felt that all my efforts have paid off well.
Further, there was a sea swimming competition at the national level. It was a for 7 KM long race. I was initially not allowed to participate as I was a blind 11 year old; swimmers 12 years and above were allowed. It was only after signing an undertaking that I was allowed. I completed the race in 1 hour and 14 minutes which shocked the authorities. I had made to the Limca Book of records then! That"s when I felt, that yes, I"m the one for this sport.
Did you get any formal training and how was that journey?
I am trained by Mr. Shashikant Chande and Mr. Pravin Lamkhade. My father took a voluntary retirement and my mother sold her jewellery to arrange the funds for me to get trained. It was a really a hard time for my entire family. But we all did it, together.
Could you reflect on the importance of systematic training in Swimming?
It is very important to have a good diet and fitness training at a particular level. One needs some sort of sponsorship or government help because it is really expensive to get trained in the sport.
What are the pre-coaching essentials e.g. Right age, mindset or any other?
Coaching can start at a young age. However, I strongly feel, competition shouldn"t be faced before 9 or 10 years of age. Swimming can be learnt at any age and with basic fitness.
Technology and scientific training has been changing the way people get trained in Swimming. What’s your take?
Blind people need a special tapping before a wall is between their way. Technology can make them feel the vibration. There are various other equipments to make the training more accurate. So, yes the scope is large and expanding.
How can one select an ideal ‘Guru’ for getting formal training for Swimming?
It is very subjective and depends from person to person. One needs to ensure that the is guiding in the right direction and he is knowledgeable. A Guru is the one who not only teaches, but inspires us to learn.
What according to you, can be the scope for improvement in training for Swimming in India?
If government organises more swimming training camps from India or outside the country, improvement can be done. Facilities and infrastructure for training should be made available to students who are genuinely good in the sport. Also, the system needs to be fair at all levels. There is a need to change mentality to consider sports in Mainstream and not as extra activities.
What do you suggest for better accessibility of Swimming in remote parts of India?
I think, proper usage of technology can help a lot. Construction of sports complex in remote areas can be a great step.
In your opinion, what are the basic traits apart from formal training that make “imd1”?
The person who is interested in the sport should be clear in his or her aim.
Your piece of advice to parents and new generation especially when some people are skeptical about career in extra curriculum.
Sports should be given importance all throughout the year and not just in summers. If the student is interested, he or she should be supported.
How can one identify and encourage talent in the family?
Parents will understand and should let their child grow. Their motivation matters the most for the child. Child should be allowed to atleast attempt to participate or learn in his/her interested areas and parents should not restrict them as they see failure in child"s progress.
Any other thoughts you want to share?
Disabled players need a lot of support as, they still struggle on it. They need more encouragement and motivation in India. Technology should be expanded and proper usage should be done because it is actually, the need of the hour. Society doesn"t accept the ordinary disabled child. They see it with the eyes of pity. So, a change in the mindset is really important. I am thankful to Team imd1 to work in this direction and consider me an ‘I am The 1’ achiever!