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Charlotte Samuels of New Jersey becomes first to swim 20 miles through New York Bight, officials say

Charlotte Samuels, 17, of Ridgewood, arrives in Sea

Charlotte Samuels, 17, of Ridgewood, arrives in Sea Bright, N.J. as she completes an open-water swim from Long Island to the Jersey Shore on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015. Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for / John Munson

Charlotte Samuels is used to breaking records, as the youngest person ever to complete the Triple Crown of open water swimming -- three difficult swims around the world.

The 17-year-old Ridgewood, New Jersey, resident added another notch to her resume Saturday, when she became the first person to swim 20 miles of open water between Long Island and the Jersey Shore, nautically known as the New York Bight.

Samuels jumped into the water at 7 a.m. Saturday at Atlantic Beach on the western end of Long Beach and finished before 5 p.m. in the New Jersey town of Sea Bright. The New York Bight extends from Montauk Point to the Cape May Inlet.

She said her official time of just under 10 hours was far less than the 12- to 16-hour swim she had expected.

"I'm proud of myself and my team," she said Tuesday. "I'm honored I got to be the first one to do this."

Few people have been recorded as having swam the route. Patricia Sener, 51, of Brooklyn, completed a swim across the Bight in July, though her route measured 17 miles.

"Everything came together really well, and conditions were absolutely perfect," David Barra, who helped organize Samuels' swim, wrote in an email. "There are a lot of moving parts for any marathon swim."

Barra, who is also the director of the 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim, wrote that the documentation from Samuels' run will be submitted to the Marathon Swimmers Federation for authentication by an international review board. The group verifies and maintains a list of records and swims.

Samuels said she hopes to help create a marathon swim on the East Coast akin to crossing the 21 miles of the English Channel, which she completed as part of her 2014 Triple Crown finish that also included 20.2 miles across the Catalina Channel in Southern California and 28.5 miles around Manhattan Island.

Still, her most recent swim stands out from the others. It came with all the usual challenges of unpredictable currents and weather and brought a few additional problems.

"I gave a lot this swim," she said. "I don't think I've pushed myself physically as hard."

Samuels said the biggest difficulties in finishing were the logistical ones -- she and her support team weren't sure how many boats they needed to follow her (they ended up moving between three of various sizes).

There also was a small shark that appeared near her partway through the swim, but Samuels said she didn't notice.

Training, however, was easier, Samuels said. The practices she attended through her swim team at home provided her with a level of what she calls base training, and between seasons she and her friends get outdoor experience, sometimes traveling to swim in the Long Island sound.

In a Facebook post, the Marathon Swimmers Federation praised Samuels' accomplishment and noted there may be potential for an organized swim there in the future.

"We can see this developing into a new NYC-area destination swim!" the post read.

Federation officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.


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