Erica Esterly, the 20-year-old philosophy major from Scottsdale and third-year cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point, completed her 57-mile swim during the 40 Bridges Race around Manhattan in New York City.
According to a press release, she began the swim on the morning of Aug. 10 at approximately 10:05 a.m. and completed it in 19 hours and 49 minutes on the morning of Aug. 11. Esterly’s time represents the fastest female swim on record.
Of the 16 people to complete the 40 Bridges Race, sponsored by New York Open Water, Esterly, a member of the Army West Point swim and dive team, is the youngest by 16 years.
The event involves two laps around Manhattan Island, with two well-known open water swimmers, Mayra Santos from Portugal, and Antonio Arguelles from Mexico, also having completed the event.
Esterly previously finished NYOW’s 20 Bridges Race in September 2021 in 7 hours and 49 minutes, the release explained. She beat her 20 Bridges Race split time in the 40 Bridges Race by 20 minutes.
Esterly’s love of open water swimming and determination to finish the race helped her focus despite the grueling event.
During the race, Esterly had to contend against a strong current for the next few hours. She depended on her mental and physical toughness to finish the 57-mile, counterclockwise swim around Manhattan on Wednesday and Thursday.
As explained in the release, she also relied on her crew, consisting of her parents and younger brother, to prepare the hydration and nourishment that her kayaker provided to her every 40 minutes during the over 19-hour swim.
In addition to her West Point studies and collegiate swimming, Esterly formerly swam with Scottsdale Aquatic Club and is also an active member of a local Arizona chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Coming up in September of 2022, Esterly will swim the Catalina Channel, from Catalina Island to Point Vicente, Calif. According to the release, her ultimate goal is to be the youngest person to complete the Oceans Seven, a marathon swimming challenge consisting of seven open water channel swims.