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Diana Nyad In Homestretch Of Cuba-Florida Swim

Filed by KOSU News in US News.
September 2, 2013

Jellyfish stings, an asthma attack and sheer exhaustion have all stopped Diana Nyad in the past. But on Monday, the 64-year-old long-distance swimmer was within a few miles of shore on her fifth attempt to swim from Cuba to Key West, Fla.

If she makes it, she’ll become the first to make the swim without the aid of the aid of shark cage.

She was expected to reach Key West on Monday afternoon after more than two full days in the water, according to her website. The swim began Saturday morning when she jumped off a seawall at the Hemingway Marina in Havana.

Her journey will take her a distance of 112 miles across the Florida Straits, according to her team, which includes five boats and a support crew on the lookout for sharks and jellyfish.

As she entered the homestretch, her team reported that her tongue and lips were swollen, causing her speech to be slurred.

“Diana has gotten very cold, so the handlers were not stopping her to eat and drink overnight in the hopes that swimming would keep her warm,” a member of her team, Katie Leigh, reported Monday morning.

Nyad made her first attempt in 1978 — in a shark cage — but came up short. She then gave up long-distance swimming for decades. In her 60s, she has made another push. In three previous attempts since 2011, jellyfish stings, an asthma attack and shoulder pain kept her from reaching Key West.

This time, she wore a full bodysuit to protect her from stings.

As The Miami Herald notes, Australian Susie Maroney made the Cuba-Florida swim in 1997 at the age of 22 using a shark cage, which not only protects the swimmer, but also helps pull the swimmer along and makes the water less choppy.

And Walter Poenish, who was 84 at the time, claimed he made the swim in 1978 with the help of a shark cage and the use of flippers.

The International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame does not recognize either of those crossings because they were aided.

We’ll keep you updated on Nyad’s progress. [Copyright 2013 NPR]

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