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Big Isle high school girl becomes youngest to swim Kaiwi Channel

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 12:35 a.m. HST, Aug 19, 2013

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.

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MC96816 wrote:
I know dad is proud of his daughter, but brah you no "beat" Nature. It's not a contest between man and the natural world. We are in it together. Today she was one with Nature and all is good.
on August 18,2013 | 04:31PM
toad103410 wrote:
Well said.
on August 18,2013 | 05:32PM
hanalei395 wrote:
Just in time for Duke's OceanFest.......Duke too, would be proud. Congratulations!
on August 18,2013 | 08:26PM
Skyler wrote:
Agree. Didn't 'beat Nature' - that can't be done.
on August 18,2013 | 08:31PM
kk808 wrote:
on August 18,2013 | 04:37PM
cojef wrote:
Great feat, Leahi, congratulations and God Bless you!
on August 18,2013 | 05:20PM
noheawilli wrote:
Wow, congrats Leahi, I remember when you were born. Awesome day on the water. Aloha to Dad, hope the BI is treating you good, last saw u at the Honu tri
on August 18,2013 | 06:12PM
HealthyandHappy wrote:
Aim high Leahi, aim high.
on August 18,2013 | 07:28PM
Eradication wrote:
Way to represent all the crazy Brussels Sprouts out there! One of the most hated veggies around and you continue to uphold the tradition. Well done, clown.
on August 18,2013 | 09:11PM
mauka888 wrote:
maybe should have "thanked" Kaiwi... rather than a "take that Kaiwi". in any case awesome job Leahi!!
on August 18,2013 | 10:25PM
Why is this a racial thing "MEXICAN", it's a personal feat and she did fine. We have no racial thing in Hawaii, it is she that did it and not being MEXICAN. DON'T bring this RACIAL thing in again, if so, then it's HAWAIIAN. YOU want to create SITUATIONS!
on August 19,2013 | 12:37AM
Oio wrote:
Way To GO LEAHI CAMACHO!!! I don't know who you are but anything like this is a huge accomplishment for a young lady! Physical endurance, mental endurance, spiritual endurance, intellectual endurance, determination, values, perseverance, courage, and can-do desire to be "a first" I would imagine are all of these and more that fueled you in your quest to swim so far!! When I used to surf, I had trouble just doing dog paddles, side strokes and under water breast strokes to get my surfboard. Neva have leashes back then. And then of course, back float paddle was mostly my propeller. Can't imagine, swimming from Molokai (and night even!!!) to Oahu. Awesome Leahi!!! Congratulations!!! Water people are inspired!!
on August 19,2013 | 05:46AM
leino wrote:
You are a can do winner. I want you on my team!! You will go far in and out of the water.
on August 19,2013 | 07:10AM
etc.etc.etc. wrote:
terrific job!
on August 19,2013 | 10:56AM
paloloboyz wrote:
Awesome job, next stop Olympic gold. You go girl!!
on August 19,2013 | 04:19PM
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