SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (WWLP) – A South Hadley woman made history on Sunday becoming the first person to swim the entire length of the Connecticut River.

From the U.S. border with Quebec, Canada all the way to the Long Island Sound, the Connecticut River is the longest river in New England and one South Hadley woman just completed swimming the entire 410 miles on Sunday in Old Lyme, Connecticut. Something no one else has ever done before. So why did 56-year-old Kari Kostango do it?

“My love for swimming and wanting to do my part in raising awareness for the conservation of the river,” said Kostango, who is now a Board of Trustees member on the Connecticut River Conservancy. She hopes that this journey of hers raises awareness to the ongoing commitment to conservation, restoration, and advocacy of the Connecticut River and tributaries.

Throughout the experience, she once swam in 47 degree water. She once swam for four hours straight but to her, she loves embracing the challenge… hoping it leaves behind a meaningful impact.

It took her 84 swims to complete the 410 miles, swimming a new section of the river each year since 2019 between Memorial Day and Labor Day. She see’s the adventure as rewarding but it didn’t come without its challenges.

“Just some of the logistics like the cold water but doing adequate research, that was successful,” said Kostango.

She now hopes that her story will not only bring attention to the work being done by the Connecticut River Conservancy and other groups but that efforts will continue to be taken to reverse the river’s historic water pollution problems, so that the river is clean, healthy, and swimmable for future generations.

She told 22News before she started the swim in 2019, she had thought the river was only 200 miles. When she found out it was 400, she said it’s double the adventure.

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Heath Kalb is a reporter who has been a part of the 22News team since 2022. Follow Heath on X @HeathKalb and view his bio to see more of his work.