RANCHO PALOS VERDES (CBSLA.com) — A teenager from New Jersey swam the channel between Catalina Island and mainland California Monday and is well on her way to becoming the youngest person in history to complete three major open-water swims.

Charlotte Samuels, 16, completed the 20.2-mile swim from Catalina Island to Rancho Palos Verdes, north of Long Beach, at about 7:45 p.m. The crossing, which took her just shy of 20 hours to complete, was the second part of her pursuit of what is called the triple crown of open-water swimming.

“What an amazing thing, to see your child find something that they absolutely love,” Charlotte’s mother Suzanne Samuels said.

In June, Samuels completed the Manhattan Island Marathon swim, which consists of 28.5 miles of swimming around the island. That swim took her nearly 10 hours to complete.

Samuels’ completion of the Catalina Channel crossing Monday means she will need only to successfully swim the English Channel to enter the record books as the youngest swimmer in history to accomplish the feat.

“I feel like there’s no way you can be in more harmony with the world and with the universe than to be in (the water),” Charlotte said. “And I feel like, being submerged in the water, you’re basically as close as you can get to being part of nature.”

While the crossing was not the longest distance Samuels has covered in the water, it did mark her longest time spent on a swim.

Her mother attributes the lengthened swim time to the elements that were unexpected while planning the swim.

“It looked like it would be between twelve and fifteen hours, but the conditions out there were not easy conditions,” Suzanne said. “We didn’t realize how difficult it was. I think — I don’t know this, it’s just my guess — that the currents were difficult. I know that there were jellyfish out there as well.”


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