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14-year-old Berkeley native becomes youngest to swim Lake Tahoe

KRON San Francisco 7/28/2022 Adelmi Ysita
14-year-old Berkeley native becomes youngest to swim Lake Tahoe © Provided by KRON San Francisco 14-year-old Berkeley native becomes youngest to swim Lake Tahoe

(KRON)- – 14-year-old Maya Merhige has broken the world record as the youngest woman to swim the length of Lake Tahoe. She endured a long overnight 12 hour swim to finish on Monday, July 18. 

Her motivation? She swims to raise money for pediatric cancer research. Maya asked her friends and family to share names of individuals who are battling cancer, writing them on the swimming cap she wore during her swim across Lake Tahoe.

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Maya has raised over $50,000 while swimming with Swim Across America, who she has swam with since the age of nine. She hopes that the names of those currently enduring cancer on her swim cap can "remind them that there are other people who are paying attention to what they're going through."

Her swim, the Lake Tahoe Triple Crown, started at 8pm and she did not feel cold or tired until around two in the morning. She tells KRON4 that she began to dream while swimming, having very vivid dreams and imagining that "things were happening around me."

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In 2020, she became the youngest person to swim the 12-mile True Width of Tahoe. She was inspired to swim the course of the lake because her parents participated in a course once a year, it became something she wanted to experience herself. Maya tells KRON4 that Tahoe is her favorite place, she loved seeing the sunset and the sunrise during her swim. 

In addition to being the youngest woman to swim across Lake Tahoe, she is also the youngest to swim the 20.1 mile long Catalina Channel swim. She is planning a 28-mile swim in Hawaii in the winter.

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