NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - She says she’s afraid of the dark, spiders, and other creepy things, but she’s not afraid to jump into open waters.
“I think what scares me the most is the wildlife like the jellyfish but other than that I know I can swim,” said Carolina Prieto.
16-year-old swimmer, Carolina Prieto wore her Newman green swim cap as she jumped into what’s known as the “Mexican-English Channel” off the Yucatan peninsula, aiming to use the swim as a way to raise money for the underprivileged Hispanic community in New Orleans.
“I thought this would be a perfect way to combine one of my passions with raising money for this organization,” said Prieto.
She wouldn’t cross it alone though, and asked her seasoned swimmer parents, Mauricio and Susan to relay the channel with her.
“I was completely sure that she could do it I wasn’t sure that I could do it, but I have complete trust in her,” said Mauricio.
“It’s kind of crazy you stand on the beach in Cozumel and you can’t see the other side to mainland Mexico,” said Susan.
The Prietos say they prepared mentally and physically to cross the almost 20-mile stretch in just under seven hours, each swimming an hour at a time.
“Carolina had the hardest part of the whole swim,” said Susan.
Carolina not only took on the most shifts, she also suffered a serious injury cutting her foot on a rock as she was running to the water for her first leg of the swim.
“I didn’t want to stop swimming because I wanted to finish the swim so I had to persevere through, by the end of it my foot was numb and by then I was just focusing on the jellyfish,” said Carolina.
“It’s counterintuitive to see this blinking light in the middle of the pitch-black dark ocean and just know that that is your precious 16-year-old out there in the elements all by herself… as a mother I toggled between that natural mother bear instinct trying to protect her child but also being a teammate of this wonderful athlete,” said Susan.
Despite some rocky conditions, the family finished, holding hands together wading in the water.
Reporter: Would you do it again?
Prietos: “Absolutely, oh yeah for sure I would do a relay with this kid any day.”
The Prietos says they wanted to finish off such a horrible year on a positive note, working together to swim to the other side, and help others in the process.
“She was able to combine her passion with the sport with her ability to make an impact on someone’s life,” said Mauricio.
“As cheesy as it sounds to never give up,” said Carolina.
Carolina says because of her foot injury, she’s struggling to walk in a boot now but can swim just fine.
She raised almost $10,000 for the New Orleans Hispanic Heritage Foundation, who said they were very proud of the family’s achievement, and thankful for their charity.
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