California teen makes history as the youngest to swim across the Kaiwi Channel
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A California teen has made history as the youngest person to swim the Kaiwi Channel.
15-year-old Maya Merhige made it to shore just after 9 p.m. on Thursday, with a time of 27 hours and 33 minutes.
Her coach said that’s nearly 12 hours longer than they expected because of strong currents during the 28-mile journey from Molokai to Oahu.
At one point a shark was just 50 meters away.
Merhige is the 51st person ever to swim the channel for over 24 hours.
Covered in sunscreen, Merhige set out Wednesday night just after 5:30 p.m. from Papohaku Beach.
Merhige was confident she could finish the swim. Her mom, Elisabeth Tung, felt a mixture of anxiety and excitement.
“It’s an emotional roller coaster. I’m terrified and proud and I find myself crying every other minute,” said Tung.
”She just has the brain of someone who can focus and dig deep and do this type of stuff and have the discipline to pull, pull it out and do it.“
Merhige is just 2 weeks younger than the current record holder Edie Markovich who completed the swim in 2021.
It took Markovich over 15 hours.
The grueling 28-mile journey from Molokai to Oahu was for a purpose — to raise money for pediatric cancer.
Merhige is dedicated the swim to a family friend who passed a way from cancer — his name “Sam” written on her swim cap.
She’s already raised over $50,000 for cancer research with the organization Swim Across America.
Merhige also the youngest person to swim across lake Tahoe — she did that when she was 14.
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