Less than three football fields away as Fiona Goh swam through the Pacific Ocean, a couple of blue whales breached the surface.
But Goh wasn't much for sightseeing. The 13-year-old girl from Rancho Santa Margarita was in the midst of breaking a four decades-old record to become the youngest female to swim solo from one of the eight Channel Islands to the California mainland.
A freshman at Santa Margarita Catholic who will, not surprisingly, compete on the school's swim and water polo teams, is 13 years 300 days old. She broke a record that had been held since Aug. 14, 1971.
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According to Scott J. Zornig, president of the Santa Barbara Channel Swim Association, Stacy Frezonki was 14 when she swam from Catalina Island to the mainland four decades ago.
Goh’s swim on Sunday totaled 12.4 miles from Anacapa Island to Silver Strand beach in Oxnard. She completed the marathon in 10 hours, 10 minutes and 18 seconds, battling darkness, strong currents, marine life and large waves.
According to Zornig, since 1927 there have been approximiately 350 solo marathon swims off the eight Channel Islands.
“Fiona started her swim at 4:30 a.m. yesterday morning in 65 degree water," Zornig said in a press release. "The marine life was very active during her swim as she encountered rays, jelly fish, a pod of dolphins, a half dozen seals and 2 blue whales which breached less than a few hundred yards from her. There are few adults who possess the intestinal fortitude to complete such an endeavor … and only one 13-year-old that I am aware of.”
Goh was back in school Monday and wore battle wounds that proved her endurance record came with a price: She had more than a dozen jellyfish bites covering her arms and legs.
"I'm fine," she said. "Just a little tired today."
—Sean Zeitler contributed to this report.