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Kutral Ramesh (born 8 November 1981), popularly known as Kutraleeswaran, is an Indian swimmer. He swam across the Palk Strait, in April 1994. He swam across English Channel in 1994 when he was 13 years old and in the same year, he swam across Rottnest Channel in Australia, Straits of Messina in Italy, Zannone Circeo in Italy and Ten Degree Channel to surpass Mihir Sen's record of completing five channels in a calendar year. He received the Arjuna Award and Guinness world record in 1996.[1]

Nationality Indian
Notable awards Guinness World Record, Arjuna Award

Early life[edit]

Kutral was born in Erode, Tamil Nadu. He was born to Ramesh, an advocate at Madras High Court and his wife Sivakami, a home maker. His family moved to Chennai when he was 1 month old. Kutral did his schooling in DAV, Gopalapuram, Chennai and his bachelor's degree in Engineering from College of Engineering, Guindy

Career as a Swimmer[edit]

He began his swimming at the age of 7. His first attempt at the district level swimming contest. It is called the "Ribbon Meet". The reason it is called a ribbon meet is because the top 6 out of the 8 district level finalists get a ribbon. In that contest he got sixth position and a ribbon. He took part in many district & state-level contests. At the age of 10, he took part in 5 km swimming competition in the sea. Though youngest participant, he managed to get fourth place and this event turned to be stepping stone in his swimming career in 1991.

Palk Strait and English Channel swim (1994)[edit]

In 1994, his next swimming expedition was to surpass Mihir Sen's record of completing five channels in a calendar year and unbroken for over 30 years. He first swam across the Palk Strait (Ram Setu), which lies between Tamil Nadu, India and Sri Lanka by end of April 1994 at the age of 12.[2]

After completing Palk, he went on to cross the English Channel on 15 August 1994. He swam across Rottnest Channel in Australia, Straits of Messina at Italy, and Zannone Circeo at Italy. Finally, he crossed the Ten Degree Channel on 30 December, at the end of calendar year. Thus he swam across the six channels, all in a year 1994 and included in Guinness Book of World Records for this feat.


After setting the record, He started taking part in competitions all over the world. Between 1995 and 1998, he was the only participant from Asia of the 25 swimmers selected across the world for the World Series in Swimming. He represented India in over 6 competitions around the Globe and won medals for India, which includes the 1st prize in Switzerland. He was awarded Arjuna Award by the Indian Government for bringing laurels to the country and for the Guinness Record in 1996.

Education and career[edit]

Kutral holds an engineering degree from College of Engineering, Guindy at Chennai, masters from University of Texas at Dallas, and MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management. He started his career as a hardware engineer in Intel Corp. and transitioned to Citibank as an Investment Banker. In 1998, he made a conscious decision to retire early from professional swimming, as private corporate sponsors were nonexistent. It is to be noted that the Tamil Nadu State Government sponsored and provided holistic support for his entire Guinness record contributing swims (1994) and the Indian Government sponsored one of this International competitions (1995). He was an inspiration for many youngsters in India.