Swimming with sharks at the Atlantis,The Palm,Dubai

Swimming with sharks at the Atlantis,The Palm,Dubai

"The most beautiful thing in the world, is of course, the world itself." I am a self-confessed travel junkie and foodie. But the life of a professional swimmer is gruelling and involves a lot of sacrifices in the interest of training. For the better part of my 20 year career in competitive swimming, holidays and travel were determined by locations that had a pool I could train in through the vacation, or destinations around the world where swim meets happened. Now that I've switched to Golf, my travel is as often guided by locations with the best golf courses to play on. Dubai has always been very special to me; I've raced in important meets here with memorable performances. Today I train with coach Justin Parsons at the Butch Harmon School of Golf, in Dubai, and get to the city quite often. And Atlantis the Palm, in Dubai, where I stayed on my most recent visit, is a jewel that really must be discovered by everyone who visits this city.

With its enviable position atop the crescent of The Palm, the resort spans 46 hectares with 17 hectares of water themed amusement at Aquaventure Waterpark, an open-air marine habitat featuring extensive fresh and salt-water pools, all located on a long stretch of beach and a delectable choice of restaurants. Each dimension of the resort offers a taste of Arabia, as well as a playful nod to the ocean and the myth of Atlantis-from sun-kissing spires and Moorish archways to a sunken city filled with exotic sea creatures and suites with a fish eye's view into an underwater haven.

I've always had a special connect with water and that's probably one of the reasons I love this hotel so much. You can get up close and personal with the most lovable of sea creatures from feeding the Eagle, Leopard and Cownose Rays to petting Sea Lions or just view some exotic marine life from a distance by visiting the Atlantis themed aquarium - The Lost Chambers.

Every swim race, once you hit the water, begins with a powerful dolphin kick. This kick is used to propel forward building on the momentum from your dive or push off the wall. It’s probably the fastest you'll ever go in the pool and it's called the dolphin kick. The reason is that fish swim moving their tails side to side, while the dolphin moves its tail up and down. Of course a dolphin will do a 100-meter dash 4 times as fast as the fastest human! But these are just some of the fun facts you’ll learn in the interaction with these lovely mammals at the Dolphin Bay in Atlantis.

I enjoyed this dolphin interaction so much that I decided to try the "Ultimate Snorkel", which allowed me to get into their massive aquarium with over 60,000 fish, including reef sharks, a hammerhead, a number of rays and was a truly unique experience. I've always watched fish swim and tried to move with the same rhythm for my swimming, but being one with the fish, both the lethal and pretty ones, is a memory I'll never lose!

Atlantis has 20 bars, restaurants and cafes. My reviews of a few that I tried and liked are in the food section of this blog..

The author, Rehan Poncha, is one of India's most accomplished athletes, an Olympian Swimmer and Arjuna Awardee, who is also a self-confessed foodie and travel junkie. Follow him on twitter @RehanPoncha; or on facebook facebook.com/Rehan.Poncha.India