A 17-year-old Kona girl finished her swim across the Kaiwi Channel between Molokai and Oahu Sunday, making her the youngest known swimmer to complete the physically demanding feat.
According to an online map that was tracking her progress, Leahi Camacho landed at Sandy Beach around 12:30 p.m. Lifeguards at the beach confirmed her arrival.
Shortly before she finished the 26-mile trip through open ocean, Leahi Camacho’s dad, Charlie Camacho, posted on Facebook that she was about a half mile from shore.
“Take that Ka‘iwi, beaten by a 17 year old girl,” he wrote. The post now has 70 “likes” and more than 30 comments congratulating the swimmer.
At about 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Leahi Camacho posted “Go time.”
Leahi Camacho started her swim at Laau Point on Molokai, according to a flyer posted online to elicit donations.
“Swimming channels comes at a steep price, not only physically and mentally draining but checkbook draining as well. This is where I reach out, reach out to the community that has supported me though my 11 years of competitive swimming and ask for a big favor, to help fund me to make my way across Ka‘iwi Channel,” the flyer says.
Leahi Camacho told the Molokai Dispatch last week the cost of the trip was about $7,440, including an escort boat and kayaks, flights between Molokai, Oahu and her hometown of Kona, food, lodging, and a shark shield.
“When I got wind of this, I said, ‘Say what?’” Molokai’s Lloyd Yonemura, a swim official with USA Swimming, told the Dispatch.
Yonemura said he’s been “calling her name” as an announcer at Hawaii swim races for the past 10 years, where she’s been a “top eight finisher for the past three years.”
“She’s so young I can’t believe it,” he told the paper.
According to her Facebook page, Leahi Camacho is a student at Kealakehe High School. She has been chronicling her training online at takingonthebigblue.blogspot.com.