Aqua cop!

Tulasi Chaitanya displays the swimming medals that he won at the World Police Games in Belfast.-CH. VIJAYA BHASKAR

Tulasi Chaitanya, a Vijayawada cop, is making waves in the swimming pool. J.R. Shridharan has the story.

It’s time to pop the cork and raise the glass in toast to Mothukuri Tulasi Chaitanya, a 25-year-old swimmer, who created history by winning the first-ever international medal for the Andhra Pradesh Police Department. The Vijayawada cop returned from Belfast, the venue of the World Police and Fire Games, with three gold and three silver medals in swimming and he credits his blazing performance to Additional Director General of Police (Sports) Rajiv Tridevi.

“He is my living God for he is nurturing my aquatic skills in a committed manner,” said the youngster, who works as a head constable in the Vijayawada Commissionerate. In his maiden international outing, Chaitanya won gold in the 4x 50m freestyle relay, 4x50m medley relay and 100m freestyle and silver in 50m freestyle, backstroke and 100m backstroke events.

“Rajiv saab identified my passion and helped me train at the Basavangudi Aquatic Centre in Bangalore under the watchful eyes of NIS coach Praveen Kumar for one year. He has so far spent around Rs. 3 lakh on me. I am happy I lived up to his expectations,” said Chaitanya, a trainee at the Sir Vizzi Swimming Complex at Gandhinagar in Vijayawada.

Chaitanya lost the gold in the 50m freestyle by a micro second thus failing to emerge as the world’s fastest cop in the pool. “I was very disappointed as I faltered at the end,” the champion swimmer said on his return. Chaitanya, keen to beef up his endurance, swam a distance of 25 kms from Bheemunipatnam to Visakhapatnam and also swam in the river Krishna regularly.

Veteran swimmer Sambasiva Rao, Chaitanya’s first coach, attributed the success to his ward’s hard work and sincerity. “He came to me when he was 10 years old. He is a coach’s delight for he did the drills wholeheartedly. He also trained at the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh Academy in Visakhapatnam.”

Chaitanya, after learning the nuances, went on to represent Andhra Pradesh and his alma mater Acharya Nagarjuna University in the sub-junior, junior and all-India university meets and joined the Indian Railways on sports quota. But he gave up the job to join the police department as constable in the crime record bureau at the Vijayawada Commissionerate.

He drew the attention of the swimming fraternity by winning five medals in the 61st all-India police aquatic meet in Guwahati in 2012 to qualify for the Belfast event. His exploits impressed his bosses and he received a promotion as head constable.

The next target for Chaitanya will be the 67th Senior National Aquatic Championship in Thiruvananthapuram and the all-India police aquatic meet in Jaipur in October. “Rajiv saab is having bigger dreams for Chaitanya. He wants to send him to Australia for advanced training,” said M. Ramakrishna, the champion swimmer’s father.