Ratheesh was first called ‘Dolphin’ when he tried to emulate the swimming style of the marine mammal, propelling himself forward in water with his hands and legs tied.
The world of adventure sports was not quite accessible to the boy from a fisher family in Alappad. The 38-year-old’s nearly-two-decade-long efforts bore fruit on Wednesday when he crossed the 10-km stretch across Thiruvananthapuram-Shoranur Canal in an attempt to set a Guinness World Record. It took him five hours and 10 minutes to complete the challenge.
“The current record holder is Gopal Kharvi, another Indian and it is for 3.7 km,” he says.
Ratheesh, who currently works as a life guard on Kollam beach, has been training in the Arabian Sea since 2002. He organised his first adventure event in 2002, jumping from the 50-foot-high Neendakara bridge to the estuary and swimming 500 metres with his hands and legs bound.
A year later, he swam for 1 km in the Ashtamudi lake with his body wrapped in a sack. A swimming instructor, he has also conducted a string of events across the State, each for spreading a message.
“My idea is to make Kerala a State with zero drownings,” says the swimming instructor.
Ratheesh, who has many records, including Limca Book of Records and Arabian Book of World Records in his kitty, says his next aim is to cross English Channel, considered one of the toughest tasks by adventure swimmers. “Many freestyle swimmers have done that, but it will be the first time for someone to attempt the distance with his hands and legs bound.” He adds it will be all the more difficult for a person like him since it requires several months of training to acclimitise to cold water. “The biggest challenge is the funding. I won’t be able to pull it off without financial support. Also, I am planning to attempt it as part of spreading awareness against marine plastic pollution,” he says.