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Ardent swimmer, Manak Patel hopes to bring laurels to India

14-year-old Manak Patel from Ahmedabad was diagnosed with autism when he was hardly three years old. Last week, he won a 'Finisher's Medal' for the Aquaman National Open Swimming Competition 2019 in Goa. Manak is dreaming big and hopes to become a part of the Special Olympics under the guidance of his swimming coach Amal Upadhyay. His mother Beena Patel is helping Manak to achieve his dreams.

The benefits of swimming for children with autism are many. It helps to enhance coordination, speech, social-skills, self-esteem and cognitive processing for a child. For 14 year old Manak Patel from Ahmedabad, swimming has definitely helped him in many ways. This youngster recently won the Finisher's medal at the Aquaman National Open Water Swimming Competition held in Goa on 3 November. In the inclusive event, Manak was the only person with a disability and that makes his victory even more special.

Manak completed 2 kms in 42 minutes and 40 seconds. His mother Beena Patel remembers how her son used to hate swimming classes when she first introduced him to it. Manak was diagnosed with autism when he was around three years old and Beena was looking into the many different ways through which he could improve skills.

I made sure he attended all therapy sessions. Someone told me that swimming is great for children with autism, and that is how I got introduced to swimming coach Amal Upadhyay, who has been training children with disabilities for a long time. Initially, Manak used to hate the idea of swimming. But under Amal's guidance he started doing very well. - Beena Patel, Manak's mother.

It has been over seven years since Manak started swimming and now he is in loves going underwater. This young champion hopes to become a part of the Special Olympics someday. "Manak is still basking in the glory of his latest achievement and we are so proud of him. My family has also been very supportive", says Beena. She further adds, "Swimming is not easy for a child with special needs. Many people have told me that Manak cannot do it. But I always wanted to show the world that nothing is impossible for my son".

Beena, who is a special educator, hopes that Manak will achieve bigger heights and bring more laurels and accolades. Apart from swimming, Manak is an ardent cyclist and sportsperson. He loves working on the computer as well. "I suggest swimming to all children who have a disability. It can truly work wonders. Manak is the ideal example", she says.

Manak's swimming coach Amal Updhyay who is also a Hydrotherapist has high hopes on his student. "Initially, Manak used to find swimming difficult and he was scared too. It was difficult for him to understand instructions. His latest achievement is definitely something big. I want him to participate in the Special Olympics and complete 5 kms. Someday, he can also come in the first place along with other kids who don't have disabilities", he says.

Also Read: Hydrotherapist Amal Upadhyay is convinced about the healing powers of swimming

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