Life for South Asian Games (SAG) Silver medalist in swimming Ridmi Rankothge is akin to running a marathon. Training twice a day is a must and so is attending lectures, the latter which will help her achieve her career ambition which is to be a chartered accountant.
The recent SAG gave her enough pleasant memories. She won a silver medal in the 200 metre butterfly and hogged the limelight with the other Sri Lankan swimmers who denied the Indians all the medals they wished to win in the pool. “We trained hard two months before the Games. The trials were so competitive that we knew there were medals for us if we made it to the team,” reflected Ridmi in an interview with Nation.
Ridmi is a naturally motivated athlete. She is up by 4 am and in the pool by 5 for her first session of swimming for the day. She returns to the pool again at 4 pm and swims till 7.30 pm to complete her rigorous daily training schedule. In between training she attends lectures at Royal Institute. She is also a CIMA student. She is one of the lucky ones where parent input is concerned. “My parents understand the demands of competitive sport. They support me because they know I can do it,” she said with a chuckle.
She started swimming when she was five years old. Swimming and studies take a toll on most students. There are a good number of swimmers who quit because they stop improving. Ridmi never experienced a phase where she went stale. She has continued to improve under the watchful eyes of coach Julian Bolling. “I am swimming at my best. I think this is my peak,” she said. What’s the best decision she has taken in swimming to date? “Well, I think it is not quitting from swimming,” she said with a smile on her face which hinted that she has experienced make or break challengers inside the pool which she probably wishes to keep to herself.
She is possibly inspired by her father Parakrama, a software manager, and mother Nilukshi, a bank manager, in reaching dizzy heights academically. But when it comes to water, what inspires her is the dolphin. “Watching the dolphin helps me get my movements right” she said.
She has a passion for water. Gazing at the vast blue mass makes her day. “Looking at water calms me and helps me think through things,” she said.
This is an internet era where sportsmen and women can get that little edge by gathering knowledge from the cyber world. But she has vested that responsibility on her coach’s hands. “Julian Sir tells me all what I should do in the pool,” said Ridmi who added, “My time is divided between studies and swimming. I don’t have time for other things”.
Her achievements, both in sport and academics, when she was a school girl at Musaeus College, are overwhelming. She won the national championships, captained Rainbow Aquatic and passed her O’ Levels (Eight As) and A’ Level (One A, two Bs) exams with flying colours.
This is a nice time to be a swimmer in Sri Lanka. The sport, according to how Ridmi explained, is now getting the attention that disciplines like cricket and athletics received. The Sri Lankan swimmers have created some ripples in the pool with their performances oversees. Athletes like Ridmi know that with training being revved up a wave is in the making.
Pics by Venura Chandramalitha