Father’s Day

Like father, like daughter

A single parent, Regwinder is the sole wind beneath his 8-year-old swimming champ daughter’s wings

Like father, like daughter

Ajay Joshi

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 19

A father’s love is unparalleled. The role he plays in shaping the life of his children can never be substituted.

Achievements aplenty

Pawani Bhatia has won gold in 25 metre breaststroke in the U-9 Inter State Open Swimming Championship held in Chandigarh; a bronze in 25 freestyle and silver in breaststroke; bronze medal in 50-m breaststroke in Sahodaya U-12 event; Won best swimmer award twice in Sant Das Public School; Youngest athlete title winner in 5-km mini-marathon; and received outstanding swimmer award from DC and state sports minister in 2018 among other awards

Regwinder Bhatia was titled Best Water Polo Player of Punjab in 1997 and has remained National Swimming Champion. He is a swimming coach in the Education Department

Regwinder Bhatia (39) is one such father, who as a single parent, is not only setting high parenting goals, but also toiling hard to make his daughter an acclaimed swimmer.

Pawani Bhatia, his 8-year-old daughter, is the youngest swimming champion in the town. Coincidently, it was around three years ago, that she clinched her first medal on Fathers’ Day only. She won silver medal in the first Punjab State Modern Pentathlon Championship, 2018, held in Ludhiana. Since then, she has only excelled to become a state and national champion.

While Regwinder, who himself has remained a national champion in swimming, says, it’s a blessing to see his daughter rise in the same sports. He spends hours in training and providing her the right upbringing.

A physical education lecturer at a government school, Regwinder has been raising his little girl on his own, when she was just one-and-a-half years old. “She was just three, when I first taught her how to swim. The passion to opt for the sport ignited after she accompanied me in various matches. As a coordinator, I have to conduct swimming events for the Education Department across the state. Therefore, I used to take Pawani along. Seeing other players, she also once evinced interest in participating in the matches. She was just five, when she competed with girls above her age in Under-9 state championship. Since then, there was no looking back. She has bagged many gold medals in state and national swimming events. I hope that she will win more medals in future and make the country proud,” he proudly said.

Separated from wife after a year of Pawani’s birth, Regwinder said: “Initially, I got depressed worrying how will I raise my daughter alone. A child needs both parents for a better upbringing. Even the thought of raising a child alone never crossed me. However, later with the support of my parents, I developed the will and confidence that I can do it. From learning cooking to scrolling parenting lessons on the internet, I gained knowledge on everything. It became easier day by day. As a sportsperson, I can’t let my daughter eat fast food, so I cook healthy pizzas, sandwiches and burgers at home only. Pawani is also fond of cooking now and helps me sometimes. I believe I managed to raise her alone due to the emotional connect a parent shares with his child. She doesn’t want to go to her mother now, who left us to fulfil her dreams,” Regwinder said.

A resident of Preet Nagar, near Sodal Road, Regwinder feels proud to be Pawani's father, who he says is dedicated towards her passion even at this tender age. While swimming pools are shut due to the restrictions imposed to check the ongoing pandemic, he has created an artificial pool at home for her to practice and is at present giving her training in yoga and other strength workouts.

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