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28-year-old swimming champ with Down syndrome creates waves wherever she goes

In our special series on achievers with Down syndrome, today we feature Arti Krishnamurthy, a para swimming champ from Tamil Nadu, who is a strong contender for the 2019 Special Olympics.

Ask Arti Krishnamurthy what her favourite swimming stroke, and the list is endless - "Free style, butterfly, breast stroke…"

At 28 years of age, Arti is a star in the world of para swimming, with bronze and silver medals at the 2013 Special Olympics to her credit. She won her first gold medal in 1998 at the Special Olympics in Chandigarh.

She is a strong contender for the 2019 World Games as well. Later this month, she will go up against the best in India for a spot in the Special Olympics team.

She is first and foremost an athlete, then a person with Down syndrome.

For mother Sandhya, this recognition is a matter of great pride, especially when she remembers how every mainstream school rejected Arti because she had Down syndrome.

No school would accept Arti. I used to go this center for people with Down syndrome and a coach there, Veerabhadra, saw her. He said that she had a spark. We had to struggle at first, as she was scared of water. But today here we are. She is a probable for the 2019 World Games - Sandhya Krishnamurthy, Arti's mother

Independent in every way

Arti's selection camp will be held in New Delhi, where she will have to live, eat, and socialize with strangers. None of this bothers her. Her confidence levels are amazing, thanks to her parents who never regarded her differently.

Their attitude and approach is truly remarkable, given the negativity they got from people around them.

Arti's parents were told that she would not live past the age of eight years, and that she was "mentally retarded". They were told that helping her was pointless.

Today, as she watches her daughter train at a pool in Chennai along with other children, Sandhya feels happy and proud for her child.

All the parents here regard her as a role model. She is very sincere and committed to what she takes up. Academic achievement is not everything. Arti can stay on her own, cook a meal, and travel by herself - Sandhya Krishnamurthy, Arti's mother

To parents with children who have Down Syndrome, Sandhya's message is simple -

See your child as an individual with potential. Don't see everything through the lens of Down syndrome. Don't keep correcting them. If you train them with confidence, they are the best - Sandhya Krishnamurthy, Arti's mother

As for Arti, her single-mindedness shines through. All that she can think about is the camp.

I am feeling very excited about the camp! - Arti Krishnamurthy, Special Olympics swimming champ

This swimming champ has her sights firmly set on the next milestone!


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