Autism is a spectrum disorder that can be extremely challenging for people who suffer from it. It affects the nervous system and exploits the overall mental, emotional, social, and physical health of an individual. Yet, some courageous individuals break all the barriers of this condition and prosper with their talent and hard work, and one such person is 13-year-old Jiya Rai from Mumbai, and she has Autism too.

Recently, Jiya Rai has set a new world record by swimming across the Palk Strait from Sri Lanka’s Talaimannar to Tamil Nadu’s Dhanuskodi, covering a distance of 29 km in 13 hours and 10 minutes. Jiya began swimming at 4:22 AM from Talaimanar and concluded at Dhanushkodi at 5:32 PM. Previously, the world record for crossing the Palk Strait was held by Bula Chowdhary, covering the distance in 14 hours and 52 minutes in 2004. And now Jiya Rai has broken this record and has become the youngest and fastest female swimmer worldwide to swim across the Palk Strait. The swimming event was conducted and instructed by the Para-Swimming Federation of India (PSFI). The Indian coast guard and the Indian Navy provided Search and Rescue (RAS) cover in the Indian waters while Sri Lankan Navy provided their full support in the Lankan waters.

This is not the first time that this Indian teenager has made such records. Jiya Rai has been achieving various accomplishments in her field. Last year, she became the youngest and the first autistic Indian girl to swim from Worli Sea Link to Gateway of India, covering a distance of 36 km in 8 hours and 40 minutes. Jiya has won three gold medals in the 20th National Para-Swimming Championship-2020. She has also bagged 24 gold medals and one silver medal in distinct State and National open water swimming championships. She has completed multiple swimming events and won numerous awards and records.

For Jiya's outstanding accomplishments, her name has been recorded in Asia Book of Records and India Book of Records. Jiya has also received the “Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar 2022", which is the highest honour granted to Indian citizens below 18 years. Jiya Rai is immensely passionate about swimming and it likewise works as water sports therapy against her autism. She dreams to become the first and the youngest para swimmer from India to swim seven oceans. Jiya also works and swims in events to spread awareness about autism in India. This young girl has emerged as a true inspiration for numerous people in India and across the world.

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