Maya Merhige is officially the youngest woman to swim the Lake Tahoe Triple Crown.
Merhige, 14, began the 21.3-mile swim on the evening of Saturday, July 16th, and finished the next morning.
She started her long trek at Camp Richardson in South Lake Tahoe and ended at Incline Village on the North Shore, where she finished in a time of 12 hours and 58 minutes.
The Lake Tahoe Open Water Swimming Association offers three different distances one can take on: the 21.3-mile Lake Tahoe ‘Length,’ the 12-mile ‘True Width,’ and the 10.6-mile Vikingsholm courses that comprise the Triple Crown.
Merhige achieved this ‘triple swim’ feat nearly two years after her first marathon swim in August 2020.
The Lake Tahoe Open Water Swimming Association made an official announcement of her accomplishment via Instagram on July 17.
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Since the swim took place overnight, Merhige had to illuminate her surroundings with the provided lights on the cap and tail of the suit. Lake Tahoe Marathon Swimming acknowledges the difficulties of swimming in darkness at an altitude of over 6,000 feet and therefore warns swimmers of possibly developing cramps and vertigo.
A KRON4 news article shared some of Merhige’s reflections on her swim, in which she claimed to have felt tiredness and coldness around six hours into the journey. She also remarked that she began to dream and even hallucinate while moving through the water.
Prior to swimming this route, Merhige prepared herself to swim the 28-mile Molokai Channel that stretches from Molokai to Oahu in Hawaii. However, she was unable to pursue this challenge due to complications with a few of her pilots. She posted on Instagram on July 4 saying:
“It seems like the world really doesn’t want me to do this swim right now, and I have to respect that… Even though [the Molokai Channel] swim isn’t going to happen, don’t worry, I will continue to be thought of as crazy (in a fun way) while I throw myself into whatever swim comes my way next.”
In that same post, she reassured her followers that she will find another marathon swim and will continue to find more in order to raise money for pediatric cancer research. A native of Berkeley, California, Merhige has been participating in Swim Across America since she was nine years old. This year she set her fundraising goal at an ambitious $20,000. As of July 31st, Merhige has raised $17,659.
Though Merhige has not announced her next swim, she has only one swim left before completing the California Triple Crown. Having the Catalina Channel from September of 2021 and now the Lake Tahoe ‘Length’ courses under her belt, she will need to swim the remaining Santa Barbara Channel, which can be done by traversing the ocean from any of the four northern Channel Islands – Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, or San Miguel – to the mainland.