16-year-old Apeksha Fernandes, has won the hearts of Mangaloreans after winning 6 individual gold medals, with two national records under Junior category (200 metre Individual Medley and 50 metre breast stroke) and three silver medals at the recently concluded Junior and Senior National Aquatic Championships held at Basavanagudi Aquatic Centre, Bengaluru.
Apeksha has also won one silver and gold medal for team events (4x 100 metre medley relay). She bagged both the junior and senior national best swimmer trophy for 2021 under girls Group 1 and senior category for Maharashtra.
Born and brought up in Mumbai, her parents B. G. Fernandes, Professor at the Electrical Engineering Department at IIT and Shalet Fernandes, psychologist at Dr. L H Hiranandani hospital Mumbai, hail from Mangaluru. Apeksha is a student of Bunts Sangha’s S M Shetty International School and Junior College, Powai. She trains at the IIT Bombay pool and the Hiranandani Forest Club under Dr. Mohan Reddy.
Apeksha Fernandes said, “When I was little, my mom used to take me to swim. I gained interest after joining the camp. Later, my coach, who was in charge of supervising the summer camps, picked me up to continue my training.” She further stated that this is the first time she raced since the pandemic. We only had two to three weeks to prepare for the national finals because the pools in Maharashtra were closed for a long period of time owing to Covid. It was a little hectic for me, said Apeksha.
“Prof. Subhasis Chaudhuri, Director, IIT Bombay, Deputy Director, Professor Sudarshan, and Additional Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai Madam Ashwini Bhide and Sir Iqbal Chahal, Commissioner of Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation, who played critical roles in this achievement by providing the necessary permissions and special permission to open the IIT pool for training while strictly adhering to the Covid-19 protocol,” she added.
She says that racing after a very long time was memorable this time. “The credit for my achievements goes to my Coach Dr. Reddy and Ritesh,” she said. Apeksha also thanked her school Principal Mildred Lobo, and her team of teachers who showed their unwavering support and encouragement.
Apeksha was the Junior National Champion in the Under 14 category before the pandemic. In 2019, she represented India at the Asian age group championship, where she won two bronze medals. The same year at the South Asian Games, she won three gold medals and two silver medals.
She says that, “It is possible to balance academics and athletics because I received a grade average of 97 per cent in my 10th despite swimming all year. I’m taking things one step at a time. Probably, I’ll try for Asian games, and I’d like to study side by side.”