Pakistan`s hydrophilic girl, who represented Pakistan`s softer image to the world by winning enormous medals. She belongs to the heart of Pakistan, Lahore. Having a very well sports background, she believes that without dedication, obsession and confidence nothing is possible to achieve. We got an opportunity to have a dialogue with her. She stands as a role model for many girls who want to achieve their dreams and goals. We thank her for giving such a precious time to us.

PMR: How was it to born in the city of zeal?
The city of zeal, Lahore is the heart of Pakistan for me. It was fun growing here, a passionate place and people have immense hearts; there is no place like Lahore. And it is said in Punjabi “jehnay Lahore ni waikhiya O jameya he nai

PMR: How would you characterize your family life while growing up?
Well I belong to a sports background. So it is hard for me to characterize my family. As we all belong to sports thus, they have been very supportive throughout my life. Actually, they are the ones who pushed me in the water and now whatever I am, I thank them for pushing me into the water.

PMR: Your dad and brother have contributed in the field of swimming did this inspired you to enter this field?
Initially it was my dad, who was really involved in sports. In his times he was Pakistan`s International ‘Medalist Swimmer’. Later, when I started training with my brother, I got inspired by both of them. But the “root” inspiration came from my dad – he is very passionate about swimming.

PMR: Since you are one of the leading swimmers, name 3 words describing swimming creatures.
(Laughing out loud) swimming creature! EAT followed by SWIM followed by SLEEP. Repeating it twice

PMR: What is your favorite stroke? Why?
I`m actually a Medley Swimmer and do all four strokes – butterfly, back stroke, breast stroke and freestyle. I love ‘back stroke’ and ‘butterfly’; though these strokes are hard, yet I win international medals in these two strokes.

PMR: How tough your training becomes during winter reasons?
Usually winters are off and I stay out of Pakistan for my studies. And if there is any major meet in winter then it is tough because in Pakistan swimming pool are open and water is very hot. It makes the body dehydrate and then tough to swim. I stay loner in gym during winters and less of swimming; mainly because winter of Lahore at times gives me a very tough time during the training.

PMR: Name the 3 most important ingredients you think are needed in making your passion as your profession?
I think the first thing is to have ‘talent’ to show you are into it. This will make people realize who are watching you that you are passionate. It is not at all important to make your passion as your profession, rather make your talent a profession and a profession a passion. If you have the talent, all you need is dedication, obsession and confidence to stand up!

PMR: How do you feel being the first Pakistani International Swimmer? How were your feelings as you kept on winning medals for yourself and Pakistan?
It was a real honor to me when I became the first Pakistan`s International gold medalist. I was emotional and had tears in my eyes. It was mind-boggling at the age of 12 honored with the first gold medal at 3rd World Islamic Games 2001. Back that time I did not realize the importance of it, today it brings tears in my eyes.

PMR: For how long per day you give time to swimming?
It all depends on my dad – the coach, not at all on me. It is usually twice a day i.e two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening. In between is my gym session, supervised by personal gym trainer. He jots down the training; I just make one smiling face and nod my head. I comfort myself with this thought that I will come out alive (with a smile on face!).

PMR: What is the first mania you do as soon as you get time for yourself?
The first thing I do as being a girl, is to fix-up myself after 6 days of rough training. Sunday is the day I spend time with my mom and my fans. I love to use “facebook” which is ON all the time and is much a part of my life now.

PMR: How do you see swimmers future in Pakistan? Do we have those standard facilities as those abroad?
They have a bright future if they are provided with the proper facilities. Pakistan has been lacking in facilities since the day I started swimming, there was no proper pool or coaches for other kids around. We have been complaining about this but the government ignores and is busy in making their money! They really need to focus on every sports. They should too not select their favorites’- equality is what exists!

PMR: Shifting from professional life, let’s talk about “Desi Kuriyan”. What made you apart of the first season?
“Desi Kuriyan” was a turning point in my life. One day I got a call that they are making a reality show on ‘ARY Digital’ and I agreed – why not excitement other than swimming. I think it is their kind heart that they took a sports person on the show. I got a chance to experience new things and met new people, it was a fun and I wish they call me again (smile on face.)

PMR: How different was the rural community life from that of urban life?
Rural community is the real truth of life, what we were like 25 years back. Urban community is much advanced and hasty. After being there I in urban side we are living a materialistic life which is depended on machines. We have more of facilities and sources to spend a life. Rural communities are deprived of these yet are punctual and honest human beings with the simplicity of life. Now that I have experienced both the facts, I think one who has not seen rural life should experience once in their life time.

PMR: How were you treated by rural people?
They were very sweet people. Just had a little hard time to understand their Punjabi; overall, they treated us like their own daughters. I salute them as they bared us for 20 long days, with their retiring heart

PMR: How would you categorize Waqar Zaka`s tasks prearranged for the contestants? Why?
(Laughing out loud) Waqar Zaka, a funny man; the tasks were there and every time a new surprise to experience. The tasks were frequently in ‘cow dung’. I think it was his personal favorite as he made us do it several times.

PMR: What was the toughest task that you performed?
I would not call it ‘toughest’ yet they were tough. It was the “matka” task where we had to hold two empty matkas – one on head, the other one on hand – and were made to run through the path get it filled with water. The path on which we ran was ‘L’ shaped of 100 meters. Running with the empty matkas was easy but was pathetic when the matkas were filled with water. The water- matka which I carried on head gave me a neck sprain; it was tough carrying it in one position water-filled on head. This would the one task that I would not ever want to re-try. Though was the winner of that particular task but would never try it again. No MATKAS for me.

PMR: Music is something that relaxes a person. Which genre of music do you listen to?
I like all kinds of music especially hard rock, rock and hard metal. I personally like Cold Play and Bryan Adams.

PMR: Is there any dream artist that you want to meet in your life?
No doubt, Bryan Adams

PMR: How do you see Pakistani music scene? Any of your favorite national artist/band?
Pakistan music scene has an extreme depth. Music of different genres are played and produced here; from qawali to folk, from rock to classic. Pakistani musicians are extremely talented and are an individual institution themselves as they write, sing, compose or play musical instruments; unlike artists from our neighboring country. The government should promote them by constructing new better studios and making possible superior concerts and events.

PMR: You`re pretty enough to model; have you ever planned to shift from swimming into modeling?
I do not want to give current models a competition I guess. I think Paksitan`s fashion industry give more preference to skinny girls, though I have done modeling outside Pakistan quite many times. Have no idea as to when will Pakistan fashion industry understand that size zero is not everything!

PMR: If there is one thing you would want to avoid occurring in your life, what would it be? Why?
Yes, there is a lot. Nowadays, I get long lectures regarding our religion and what ever I am doing is wrong. On my face they would appreciate and behind me they would taunt. Well I have one thing to say, I do not compare my passion with my religion as it is not appropriate to do. I am aware of my limits and I know what I am doing only I am answerable to my deeds to the Al-Mighty Allah. So the people can sit quite and mind their own business, deeds and stop interfering into other people`s life (with a smile on face).

PMR: You are still young and belong the youth of Pakistan. What advice would you give to the girls especially if they want to join swimming profession?
If you are mentally strong and willing to go for your dreams and goals, then go for it. It is not hard, if doing forcefully then it becomes hard for you. Swimming is fun and healthy sports. I suggest people should learn to compete because swimming competitions` are much more fun. Nowadays, I am running a summer camp for young boys and girls. I think if you want to learn it then you should not be shy to try it. I believe each and everyone should learn to swim (smile on face).

PMR: What would you like to say to PMR?
Thank you so much for interviewing me. PMR is doing a great job by promoting new talent and providing all the latest updates on music, etc. I wish you guys all the best and may you see more of success.

Interview/Edited by: Tayyaba Khushi

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