Exclusive Interview with Rutvik Bhatt: Swimming, life and everything in between
Rutvik Bhatt has been around water from a tender age of four. He has always been an explorer of sorts and he tried his hand on various sports but swimming is where he found his true calling.
We sat with Rutvik and tried to pick his brain to know about his life, his professional swimming journey, and everything in between. Here we go:
Let's start off with the beginning. When did you realize that you wanted to be a professional swimmer?
I have always been around water from childhood & learned how to swim at an early age of 4 but had no plans to pursue it as a career, but over the years looking at my elder brother (Rahil) swim competitively at various levels got me intrigued about swimming professionally.
Later on, in the year 2010, I started training rigorously and made my way to the National Championship in the very first year of taking up swimming and it was a whole lot of new exposure. It was so amazing to be among the country's top swimmers and the beautiful crowd.
Although I had a bad race at the very first major championship of my career, it gave me more hunger for the sport, and it was the time I decided to take this sport up and make a name for myself.
So tell me Rutvik, who has been your biggest inspiration from the world of swimming/ sports?
I am a big-time admirer of Alexander Popov and Ian Thorpe. I have lost count on how many times I have watched them and applied their winning strategies in my races.
What is your ultimate goal in your field? A World Championship medal or an Olympic one?
My ultimate goal is to give back as much as possible to the sport, field, and team who have helped me build who I am. Nothing is more important to me than making the country proud and work for it. The Olympics is definitely my long term goal.
Your first international meet was in 2015 in Bangkok. What lessons did you learn from the event and how did it help you in the future?
I still get goosebumps remembering my first international event. Representing my country and having the Indian jersey for the first time was a cloud nine feeling for me.
If I had to particularly draw any lesson from my first international meet, it would be not to take everything so seriously and have the ability and patience to understand what's going around. I remember getting panicked if something didn't happen according to me on the day of the meet. Over the years I have eventually practiced my backup plans if something goes wrong in the first place.
Which is your favourite swimming style and in which are you most comfortable?
My favorite stroke is freestyle and it is also the most comfortable stroke to me.
Do you have any superstitions that you follow before your events?
Yes, I do have my own rituals and superstitions. Firstly, I always carry or wear colour red on the day of the competition. It can either be my costume, cap, shoes, or any other thing.
Secondly, I would have my headphones on prior to my race and go through my playlist and visualize the race.
Which is your favourite sports movie or book?
My favourite sports movies are the Rocky Balboa series and Mukkabaaz. My favorite book would be Shoe Dog by Phil Knight.
What is your favourite pastime/hobby when you switch off from the game?
I am quite a social guy and love to connect with people and try to utilize free time during the day by reading and learning about what's happening around the world and what needs attention. A big-time explorer of a new genre of music.
Which has been your favourite professional/ competitive swimming moment of all-time?
There are numerous moments in my career which are very special to me but winning my first Gold medal for India in Malaysian Championship will always be close to my heart.
Words cannot describe the amount of joy and pride I and everyone associated with me had for that moment and thereafter. It was as if all the years of hard work had finally paid off.
What will you do if a genie grants you three wishes?
1. For the world to trend towards peace, tolerance, and better learning.
2. Would want people to have love and empathy towards animals.
3. Looking at the current crisis, I would wish vaccines for the deadly virus.
We can agree on the fact that Rutvik Bhatt is one of the most talented Indian swimmers going around. His work ethic and professionalism are second to none and we have no doubts in our mind that he will bring many laurels to our country.
Our sincere thanks to Rutvik for taking time out to answer our questions despite his busy schedule and we wish him all the very best in all his future endeavors.