Ishani Erandika Senanyake is a swimmer who created many ‘waves’ at the recent South Asian Games (SAG) in India by winning three silver medals and a bronze. Like all other swimmers who swam at Guwahati, she knows that her pet sport is under the spotlight like never before. “We knew that success was coming because we trained so hard,” is how Ishani began an interview with Nation just before she began her evening training session at Killer Whale Aquatic, the club which serves as her second home.

Swimming takes a good part of her time each day, but she has time to devote to her studies in law. She has other interests going along with swimming and has already finished a course in studying the Japanese language. She was full of charm and obliged for a long photo shoot, keeping the swimming pool session last because she was anyway going to do a her second training session right after the interview. She trains twice a day six days a week and is allowed only Sunday off.

She said her parents and sister understand her sport and provide her with the much needed motivation and encouragement. She had huge praise for the founder of Killer Whale Aquatic, Manoj Abeysinghe. She had this to say about Abeysinghe, “He is my coach and I consider him as my second father”.

We read so much about the glories at swimming and see smiling faces and medals dangling from the necks of these Sri Lankan aquatic athletes. “Winning medals is not easy,” she said adding, “I get up at 4am and am in the pool by 4.45 am for my first training”. She trains till 8.30 in the morning and is back at home by 9.30 am for a meal consisting of oats and peanut butter. She takes a nap then and is back in the pool around 4.30 pm and swims till 7pm. Apart from swimming she runs which is part of her training.

Ishani has set her goals already for more glory and plans to contest the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio. “Going for the Olympic Games one day is my big dream,” she said.

She swims both short course and long course and said she swims against men to make her training more competitive. “Sometimes I lose, but there are days when I win against the men, especially when I swim long distance,” she chuckled.

Like other aspiring swimmers she joined Swim America and graduated for more advanced training which is conducted by Killer Whale Aquatic. She came under the tutelage of Abeysinghe in 2010 and has reached a medal winning capacity with a lot of hard work.

Inside the pool she’ll prove her worth within seconds and her rhythm and body movements will leave the trace of a hardcore swimmer. How does she define herself outside the pool? “Well swimmers can be identified because they have a great personality, walk straight and have big shoulders,” she said with confidence.
She said she loved competitive swimming because of the intensity and added that it was also very interesting because of the need to do strength and conditioning exercises.

Ishani, an old girl of Samudradevi Balika and Sirimavo Bandaranaike MV, took this opportunity to thank Swim America and Killer Whale Aquatic for the opportunities she was provided with to become a national athlete.

Reflecting on the sport which has given her all this glory the 20-year-old had this to say, “Swimming is a healthy sport. The swimming fraternity is like one big family and there is a lot of support for us”.

Swimming can demand the best hours of your day. That’s of course if you chose to channel all your energies and time to it. Ishani did just that in her preparation for the 2016 SAG. Looking back she said, “All my hard work has paid off”.

SAG swimming  (3)

Ishani Senanayake’s big dream is to make it to the Olympic Games one day (Pictures by Sassanda Liyanarachchi)
Ishani Senanayake’s big dream is to make it to the Olympic Games one day (Pictures by Sassanda Liyanarachchi)