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West Point Cadet To Swim 57 Miles Around Manhattan

The 2017-2018 Arizona Open Water Female High Point Scorer, Erika Esterly '24 is no stranger to the challenges of open water swimming, but last year’s 20 Bridges Race was her first marathon swim. Her love of open water swimming and determination to finish the race helped her focus.

The 40 Bridges Race will begin at 10am on Wednesday, August 10, 2022, and it is estimated that she will finish the next morning, Thursday, August 11th at approximately 5:30 am. Only 13 people have successfully finished the 40 Bridges Race, and if Esterly is able to add her name to that exclusive list, she will be the youngest official swimmer by 16 years.

She will depend on her mental and physical toughness to finish the 57 mile, counter-clockwise swim around Manhattan on Wednesday. Of her previously completed 28.5 miles swim, Esterly said, “I probably could have kept going, physically I was fine, but when I finished, mentally I was done. You lose a sense of time. It’s just you in the water, you’re disconnected from the world, no phone, no music. It disconnects me from everything that’s on my mind and stressors. That’s part of the reason why I like it so much. Marathon swimming, as physical as it is, is much more about being in the right headspace. You could quickly go to a bad place thinking about how your shoulder hurts, but you have to fight through that.”

In September 2022, Erica is scheduled to swim the Catalina Channel, from Catalina Island to Point Vicente, California, a race known for its mental toughness with its midnight start. Her ultimate goal? To be the youngest person to complete the Oceans Seven, a marathon swimming challenge consisting of seven open water channel swims. Devised in 2008 as the swimming equivalent of the Seven Summits mountaineering challenge, it includes the North Channel, the Cook Strait, the Molokaʻi Channel, the English Channel, the Catalina Channel, the Tsugaru Strait and the Strait of Gibraltar.

Follow Cadet Esterly’s swim on Instagram @eesterly.