Swimmer, 62, Tries to Reach US from Cuba

Pat Reber

Eating time for Diana Nyad. Photo: cubadebate.cu

HAVANA TIMES (dpa) — An American athlete was swimming for a second day on her way from Cuba to the United States in her bid to become the first woman to cross the stretch without a shark cage, the swimmer’s personal website reported Sunday.

The effort is the fourth attempt by Diana Nyad, 62, who has been trying since 1978 to make the symbolic connection between Cuba and the United States.

She embarked on the 160-kilometre journey on Saturday from Havana, moving the swim up by a day due to good weather conditions, according to the website CubaDebate.com. She hoped to cover the stretch of shark-infested waters to the Florida Keys in 60 hours.

By 1500 GMT Sunday, Nyad had spent 19 hours in the water and covered about 36 kilometres, according to a report from her escort boat, Quest. Overnight, she was stung by jelly fish multiple times on her lips, forehead, hands and neck.

“Today is more like swimming. I don’t know what you would call last night … probably surviving,” Nyad told her escort team.

Her crew was upbeat: “There’s no stopping her now,” they said on the website.

Nyad had to break off three previous attempts to swim the stretch.

In September 2011 she had to give up after 29 hours of swimming due to asthma and shoulder trouble combined with strong winds and currents. Her first attempt was in 1978, when she had to give up after 121 kilometres and 42 hours of swimming.

Australian Susie Maroney swam the stretch in 1997 protected by a shark-proof cage. In July, British-born Australian Jenny Palfrey, 49, gave up her attempt to cover the stretch without a shark cage due to adverse currents. She was about 40 kilometres from Key West, in Florida, when she was hauled form the water.

Note: The following are notes from Sunday night and early Monday on Nyad’s website

7:43pm EST 28:00 Swim time

“Angie Sollinger with the Media Ops team reported that just after 8pm EDT “all hell broke loose here.” Out of nowhere, a squall “blew up very quick” and hit the flotilla with winds at one point reaching 14 knots, pushing Diana east. Stationed in Key West, Vanessa Linsley was closely monitoring the radar and giving Ops Chief Mark Sollinger regular updates. Vanessa believes that most likely they were waiting out the storm as it was building to the east and were trying to move west around it to avoid any potential lightning.

“At this time, 1:00am EDT, we believe that the worst of the storm has moved past them and it is starting to settle down, though they are still experiencing moderate rainfall. Diana is in good spirits and is feeling strong. There have been no jellyfish sightings. The GPS tracker shows they have resumed their heading north towards Key West at a good pace. Stay tuned for more updates as they come in.”




2 thoughts on “Swimmer, 62, Tries to Reach US from Cuba

  • Grady, you are being too hard on Diana. Consider the dumb stunts others do for more trvial causes. It’s gained some media publicity but in the story I heard, they dropped her stated reason for doing it. I had to read it here in Havana Times. So much for our vaunted freedom of the press – only if it doesn’t threaten the empire. Just as in Cuba! But iCuba has superior health care and education systems.

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