16-year-old Swimmer Breaks World Records for Charity
When 16-year-old Angel More dives into the chilly Pacific for a solo marathon swim, she’s not thinking about the daunting number of miles ahead. She’s not thinking about the harsh currents, hypothermia, great white sharks or even how many strokes her Garmin fēnix multisport wearable is counting. One thing occupies her mind. One motivation: helping children.
Some would say Angel’s just a kid herself; however, she has accomplished more than most people twice her age. As an open water marathon swimmer, she holds multiple world records, including being the youngest swimmer to complete the California Triple Crown, a collection of three marathon swims totaling more than 50 miles.
According to Angel, however, her biggest accomplishment is raising more than $50,000 for Children International.
“That motivates me to keep going,” says Angel.
Angel uses the media attention she receives to spread awareness and raise money for the Kansas City-based organization. She has a CrowdRise page where fans can donate, and she encourages everyone to consider sponsoring a child. She recognizes that breaking the cycle of poverty is a challenge that must be taken on.
Of course Angel has never shied from a challenge. For her 10th birthday, she set the record for the youngest person to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest peak in Africa. She has since participated in several triathlons, as well as 100-mile bike rides through Napa Valley. She trained for all of this with a Garmin Forerunner 920 before switching to the fēnix. While Angel’s feats come from her own will and capacity for endurance training, she attributes her adherence to training and detailed knowledge of her performance metrics to Garmin.
“It’s been really helpful to see how my times have improved. I’m really happy with what my Garmin device does.” Says Angel, “I always feel lost if I don’t have it.”
Of all the endurance sports she has participated in, Angel’s passion is swimming. She fell in love with the water when she was 5, and while she wasn’t the fastest swimmer, she soon became known for her perseverance.
Angel started open water swimming in 2014. She was initially drawn to the Alcatraz Swim: a 1.5-mile swim from notorious Alcatraz Island to shore. Angel went on to complete the swim more than 50 times. It wasn’t enough of a challenge, and soon Angel sought out harder swims. She went on to complete open water swims in Sweden, South Africa and England – each swim requiring special permission because of her age. For a few of the longer swims, Angel holds the record as the youngest swimmer by far to complete the swim.
Such an incredible feat isn’t all that formidable to the 16 year old. She craves the open water and the trials therein. When she’s in the water, Angel finds reprieve in a zen state that most endurance athletes can attest to.
“Whenever I swim, I just get into a flow, and I am entirely focused,” Angel says, “I don’t think of how hard it is. I just focus.”
Despite her gifted abilities as a swimmer, Angel has had to earn her achievements. Her training regimen alone is enough to turn away most athletes.
“I train five to six times in the pool each week. I try to swim about 6,000 meters in total. Also, two or three times a week I’ll wake up at 3 a.m. and I’ll swim in the bay for 2 hours before school. Then on the weekends, I try to get to the ocean and do 4-, 6- and 12-mile swims.”
When Angel is training for a particular marathon, she makes a point to swim at least that distance each week. For 2019, she’s training for longer swims, so she tries to log at least 25-30 miles a week at the behest of her coach, Evan Morrison. An accomplished swimmer himself, Evan is the creator of the California Triple Crown, as well as the Marathon Swimmers Federation and LongSwims Database.
The California Triple Crown consists of three swims: a 12-mile in the Santa Barbara Channel, 20-mile in the Catalina Channel and 20-mile swimming the length of Lake Tahoe. Angel first swam Santa Barbara Channel, from shore to Anacapa Island in 2017. She next attempted the Catalina Channel and finally Lake Tahoe.
Despite the elevation of Lake Tahoe, 6,000 feet above sea level, Angel admits Catalina was the most difficult because of the length and the arduous waters. At the end of the swim, when she was already exhausted, Angel found herself swimming against the current. For over 2 hours — of the 14-hour swim — Angel fought the shifting tides and made no progress. Angel admits it was frustrating, but her primary cause pushed her onward.
“Whenever I’m in the water and I’m feeling tired, I think about the impact I’m making and the reason I’m able to swim becomes greater than myself,” Angel says.
While Angel is proud of the records she holds, she’d rather talk about her charity work. She has hosted multiple fundraising swims and has worked tirelessly to provide awareness for Children International. Having traveled extensively, Angel has had the opportunity to meet children impacted by poverty.
“They have dreams and goals and the only difference between us is that they didn’t have the same opportunities that I was blessed to be born into,” Angel says, “I want to use my opportunities to achieve not only my own goals, but to help other kids achieve their own.”
If you want to get involved, you can donate to her CrowdRise page, or you can sponsor a child.