Australian Begins Cuba to Florida Swim

Australian swimmer Chloë McCardel.

HAVANA TIMES — Australian swimmer Chloë McCardel begins on Wednesday an attempt to swim across the Florida Straits from Cuba to the United States, a challenge that others have failed to accomplice in  recent years.

“It is the world’s toughest swim,” said McCardel today in Havana adding that she will face the challenge without the protection of a shark cage.

The 28 year old Australian, who has already swum the English Channel and won the Manhattan Marathon Swim in 2010, plans to reach Key West after 60 hours immersed in the Florida Straits.

After preparing more than nine months, McCardel is confident that she will successfully cross the approximately 100 miles (161 kilometers) to Florida.

“More than 20 people have tried to swim across this wonderful stretch of water (…) with sharks, jellyfish,” she recalled.

“It’s like the World Cup, if you like football, or getting a world record with a gold medal in the Olympics,” he compared.

The Australian plans to start around 10 am from the Hemingway Marina Yacht Club, on the outskirts of Havana.

McCardel said that after the failures of other swimmers including Diana Nyad of the USA in 2012, her team of some 20 people have thoroughly studied the route to avoid making the same mistakes.

She noted that she has also had the assistance of scientists. This led her to choose this time of year to avoid the frequent  jellyfish attacks in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

The idea is also to make a symbolic contribution to improve the difficult relations between the two neighboring countries. It is about “encouraging goodwill between Cuba and the United States,” said McCardel.

US swimmer Nyad, 63, and Australian Penny Palfrey failed in recent years several attempts to swim from Cuba to Florida.

The Australian Susie Maroney was the first to complete the swim in 1997, although she did protected a shark cage.

Nyad failed last year in her fourth attempt to reach Florida by swimming from the coast of Havana. Jellyfish stings and a strong storm in August 2012 forced her out of the water after 40 hours swimming.