Maana Patel is an Indian backstroke swimmer from Ahmedabad. Maana is the first Indian female swimmer who qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. She began a career in swimming when she was seven. From enduring an ankle injury in 2019 and having risen back from it, Maana has truly kept the spirit of the game going through her resilience and conviction. When she was 13, she clocked 2:23.41s in the 200m backstroke at 40th Junior National Aquatics Championship in Hyderabad breaking the national record.
What is your favourite word?
“When you align your mind to your body, you can do wonders” is the line I’d always remember. Mind is the captain. You’re stronger than you think. No matter what you do, it is all up in the mind. If you train your mind to go out of the box and achieve, anything is possible.
What was the moment in your life that made you Blossom into the person you are today?
The phase when I was injured, and my recovery from it, made me who I am today. When you are at your lowest is when you will learn the most in life. Hard times teach you a lot about life. You get to learn so much from people around you, and understand so much about people around you. I was almost depressed during my injury phase, where I wouldn’t sleep well for almost three months, and keep scribbling in my journal. I really wanted to quit and retire from my sport. Then I had the realisation that if I quit without even trying, I’ll never be able to complete anything in my life. That ‘Never quit’ attitude that brought me out of the injury to where I am today is truly gratifying.
What would you want the young boys & girls to learn from your journey?
Just be in your zone. Focus when you have to, and let not the noise around you affect your performance. As an athlete, I can vouch for the importance of mental training, as much as we value physical training. After a certain point it is your mental strength that gives you an edge over everything. I am now focusing on two different things. One is mental well being - where I take care of Maana as a person when I am not swimming. When I am swimming and training, that comes under mental toughness - where I take care of Maana as a professional. Acknowledging your emotions is an important thing. Mediation helps on that note