El Morro Student Makes Waves for Ocean Conservation 

El Morro Elementary fifth grader Alia Marriner (right) and friend Cedar Reckas prepare to participate in last year’s Aquathon. Photo/Katy Marriner

El Morro Elementary student Alia Marriner spends a lot of time in the water. The fifth grader is part of her school’s water polo team, has taken part in two Aquathons and grew up snorkeling, paddleboarding and playing around Laguna’s coves and beaches. So it makes sense that Marriner was inspired to protect the ocean in the best way she knows how – by swimming. 

“I feel a connection and a strong desire to protect our oceans,” Marriner said. “Hearing about all the terrible things that humans have done to disrupt ocean life makes my desire to help even more powerful.”

Alia Marriner (far right) skimboards with friends Penny Jameson, Haven Welch, and Halle Black. Photo/Katy Marriner

On June 10, Marriner is swimming from Cresent Bay to Victoria Beach to raise money for ocean conservation. Calling the event “Aquagrom,” Marriner is inviting her friends to join her on the ocean swim. So far, she has about 13 participants committed and hopes more will take on the challenge.

“This name was chosen because it will be kids doing an Aquathon,” she said. “Kids who spend a lot of time in the ocean are called groms. We will be raising money for an organization called Get Inspired. Nancy Caruso started Get Inspired, and she was the lady that brought back the kelp forests.”

When Marriner came across Caruso’s website, she said she knew the famous ocean activist was doing the most for Orange County’s oceans and wanted to contribute. 

“Kids don’t have a lot of say in how our community is run,” Marriner said. “This is a way for us to have our voices heard about how deeply we care for our local oceans.”

This isn’t the first time Marriner has completed a swim like this. Two years ago, the fifth grader swam from Cresent Bay to Victoria Beach to raise money for Black Lives Matter, raising an impressive $7,000.

More information about Marriner’s fundraiser can be found on her Gofundme site,


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