Diana Nyad: 64-year-old Swimming Cuba to FloridaBy: Lacy Langley - September 1, 2013
Diana Nyad, the 64-year-old woman who has attempted to swim from Cuba to Florida, which is 103 miles, for 35 years may finally reach her goal in 3 days. This is the fifth attempt for Nyad, who says it will also be her last. She was 20 hours into the swim on Sunday morning when her blog quoted her handler Bonnie Stoll as saying, “This is the first time we’ve ever reached international waters without a crisis.”
If successful, she would become the first person ever to swim the 103 miles without a wet-suit, flippers or shark cage. Previous attempts were busted by dehydration, strong currents and excruciating jelly fish stings to her tongue. This time she is wearing a special prosthetic mask to prevent jellyfish stings. “It’s a two-edged sword for me. It’s cumbersome, it’s difficult to swim with, but it doesn’t matter. I am safe. There’s no other way.” she said of the mask.
She told CBS News‘ Elaine Quijano, “I just hadn’t reached the end. I hadn’t reached the wall where there’s nothing more to give. If I don’t make it, I will this time be able to look myself in the mirror and say, ‘There’s nothing more.'”
She entered the water at 8:59 am on Saturday morning, and on Sunday morning was still going strong.”She is doing remarkably well in that jellyfish suit,”John Berry, the operations chief told the blog. “And she is going at her expected pace in it, which is 47 strokes per minute.” She is being followed by a 35-member crew on two sail boats, who monitor her health and update her social media accounts and blog.
In 1997, 22-year-old endurance swimmer Susie Maroney completed the swim from within a shark cage. However, many other swimmers have attempted without a shark cage, but have been turned back. In addition to protection from sharks, the cage provides a barrier from waves and other weather hazards.
Nyad, a Key West resident, feels a bond with Cubans and hopes her efforts can help mend the damaged relationship between the U.S. and Cuba.