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Dr. Sanjoy Kumar Pal


Bimal Kumar Chandra a medical doctor by profession was the second Indian swimmer to cross the English Channel and the first Indian to cross it from the French side on 10th September, 1959. He represented India at the first Asian Games, held at New Delhi, 1951 and won two bronze medals in swimming. He also represented the country in  two swimming events at the 1948 Summer Olympics.


 19 November 1927


 17 February 1998





 Alma mater

 R G Kar Medical College,  Kolkata


 Medical Doctor, Swimmer

Early life and Education

Bimal Kumar Chandra was born on 19th November 1927 in Kolkata, to Dr. Jugal Kishore Chandra, a medical doctor by profession and Mrs. Mrinalini Devi. Bimal was eldest of his three brothers Nirmal, Amal and Parimal. He graduated his matriculation examination from The Scottish Church Collegiate School, Kolkata, in 1942, and ISC from Scottish Church College, Kolkata in 1944. He then completed his degree in medicine from R. G. Kar Medical College, Kolkata, in 1950. He also completed four courses on ‘Life Saving’ from the Royal Life Saving Society of United Kingdom, in 1948.


Bimal married Abira Chandra in 1949 at the age of 21 and was blessed with two sons Bidyut & Biswajeet. His family still lives in their ancestral house at Ramdulal Sarkar Street in Kolkata.


Bimal learnt swimming from the age of 9 under the guidance of Mr. Shayamapada Goswami in Central Swimming Club, Kolkata. In 1944 Bimal represented Calcutta University in the ‘All India University Swimming Championship’ and won in two categories. From 1948 to 1956, he dominated the national swimming championships. But the defining moment in his career came in 1958 when he heard the speech of Mr. Mihir Sen, the first Indian to cross the English Channel.  Mr. Sen, in his felicitation function in Kolkata challenged that no Bengali would ever be able to break his record. Bimal Chandra was stung by Sen’s arrogance, and decided to take up the challenge. He then started long hours of practice in the Ganges everyday that would prepare him physically for the endeavour; however, there was a financial hurdle awaiting him. The passage money for a round trip to England was around Rs. 3000, rather a large sum at that time. Bimal appealed to the then Chief Minister of West Bengal, the legendary Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy, who agreed to help him out on one condition - if he failed in his attempt, he had to return the money.[1]

Crossing the English Channel was not an easy job those days. Even Mihir Sen had failed many times before crossing it. The sea there is very cold and rough due to strong sea currents with chilly water coming from the North Sea. It took Bimal many days of practice in the Strait of Dover to get acclimatize with the harsh condition of the English Channel. However, his close friends Brojen Das and Arati Saha were always there by his side for encouragement, and guidance that helped him immensely to succeed in his attempt. 


Gold medal in 1500 meters and 400 meters free style at the All India University Swimming Championship, held at Allahabad, 1944.

Gold medal in 1500 meters free style at the National Aquatic Meet, held at Mumbai, 1947.

Participated in two swimming events i.e., in 400 meters and 1500 meters free style in Summer Olympics held at London,1948.

Won bronze medal in 400 m free style and 4 x 100 m free style relay in the 1st Asian Games, held at New Delhi, 1951. 

Gold medal in 1500 meters free style, 400 meters free style, Relay (4 x 100 freestyle), and Medley relay (3 x 100 meters) at the All India University Swimming Championship, held at Chennai, 1950.

Successfully crossed the English Channel in 13 hours and 50 minutes on 10th September, 1959.


Coach and manager of the Indian Railways Board in swimming & water-polo team in National Games from 1968-71.

National coach of India in India-Cylon (Sri Lanka) swimming meet in 1968-69.

He was appointed as an examiner by the Royal Life Saving Society of United Kingdom in India.

Member of Indian contingent in ‘International Program for Youth Leaders and Social Work,’ held at Cleveland, U.S.A. in 1962.

Lecturer and examiner at St. Jhon Ambulance Brigade in Kolkata.

He was appointed as ‘Sports Medicine Doctor’ in the 9th Asian Games, New Delhi in 1982.

He was a permanent ‘Technical Official’ of the Swimming Federation of India.

He was elected as an International Referee by FINA in water polo.

He was the Chairman of water-polo Expert Board of Bengal Amateur Swimming Association, Kolkata till 1998.

Later Life

Bimal served as a Medical Officer in South Eastern Railway (SER), he was first posted in SER Central Hospital, Garden Reach, Kolkata and later to SER Hospital, Chakradharpur and Kharagpur.  He retired as Divisional Medical Officer in 1985.


He breathed his last on 17th February 1998 after a prolonged illness and kidney complication in SER Central Hospital, Garden Reach, Kolkata.