LAKE TAHOE, Calif. - Maya Merhige has become the youngest female to complete the Lake Tahoe swimming triple crown.
The 14-year-old Berkeley native, set out on a mission to do what she loves and help people in the process. So far she has raised $50,000 for pediatric cancer.
Merhige was only 12-years-old when she swam the 12-mile width of Lake Tahoe. The following year, she finished the 10.6-mile Vikings-Holm course.
"I've been swimming since I was little," said Merhige. "I've always loved it."
On Monday, she completed the trifecta, by swimming the 21.5-mile length of the lake from Camp Richardson in south lake to Incline on the north shore.
She started her 20-plus mile swim at 8 p.m. and didn't wear a wetsuit.
"Swimming at night was a really crazy experience," said Merhige. "It was all so dark, I couldn't really tell where I was for a long time. If I got freaked out underwater I just say, close your eyes and act like nothing's going on."
A boat with two captains aboard followed Merhige throughout her nearly 13-hour swim, but she could not touch the boat per race rules.
Merhige says the swim was tough but, one thing kept her motivated-- all of the names she had written on her swim cap.
"My swimming is helping a lot of people that I know that are getting [cancer] treatment it is really good motivation," said Merhige. "It reminds me when I'm swimming that whatever I'm going through is nothing compared to what people are going through in treatment."
If you want to donate to Merhige's fundraiser you can contribute through this link: