Goa lifeguard to compete in Ironman 70.3 challenge

Akash Agarwadekar

When the Ironman 70.3 challenge gets underway in Goa on October 20, a 23-year-old lifeguard will test his steel with dozens of other contestants participating in the endurance event.  

23-year-old Akash Agarwadekar, who resolved to become a lifeguard after he was nearly drowned in a river in his childhood, is now gearing up for the event, which involves a gruelling race spread over three disciplines of swimming, running and cycling over 70 kms. 

“I love to wade into the river, but I did not know how to swim. I almost drowned once when I was 10 years old, but I was saved by friends. After that I have had some more near drowning incidents, but these incidents taught me the importance to learn swimming and as a give back I decided to become a lifeguard,” Agarwadekar told DH. 

Since joining Drishti Marine in 2016, Agarwadekar has saved as many as 24 lives in “single-handed” rescues and is currently stationed at the Miramar beach in Panaji. Agarwadekar is part of a 600-strong force of lifeguards who are stationed to prevent drownings on the state’s beaches. 

In addition to discharging his duties as a lifeguard, Agarwadekar has been spending three hours cycling, apart from running and swimming, in preparation for the Ironman challenge.

“I do not need to take leave to participate in such a competition, because my job as a lifeguard also involves swimming and running. So it is complimentary to my practice,” Agarwadekar said. 

He also said that his handlers at the private lifeguard firm are “lenient” vis-a-vis duty timings. 

“They support me and my cause and allow me to practice so that I have time to prepare for the contest,” he said. 

In the run up to the Ironman 70.3 race, he has also participated in various events this year like the Karwar marathon, Goa Swimmathon, Panaji Tower Run, and the Mapusa marathon, where he secured second, fourth, first and third place respectively. 

The 70.3 Ironman race begins at the Miramar beach with 2x950 m loop swim course in the seas off the beach, followed by three lap x 30 km bike route passing through the state capital of Panaji, before the last leg of the race, which is a 21 km three-loop run course. 

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