Endurance swimmer Nyad sets off from Cuba to Florida

U.S. long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad adjusts her swimwear before attempting to swim to Florida from Havana. Credit: Reuters
U.S. long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad adjusts her swimwear before attempting to swim to Florida from Havana.
Credit: Reuters

U.S. endurance swimmer Diana Nyad jumped into the calm turquoise waters of Cuba on Saturday and began making her way toward home, Key West, Florida, in pursuit of a dream that she says nearly took her life in an attempt last year.

“I’ve learned that if you see a beautiful calm sea like this you don’t say that is the way it is going to be forever … I admit I’m scared, I know what’s out there,” Nyad, 64, said, as she prepared to enter the water at Havana’s Hemingway Marina, just west of the capital.

Her biggest challenges during the 103 mile (166-km) swim, apart from fatigue, will be the poisonous jelly fish that float through the Florida Straits, the sharks, the man o’wars, storms, waves and the powerful and unpredictable Gulf Stream, the mighty ocean current that flows west to east between Cuba and Florida.

If she succeeds, Nyad, who has failed on four attempts to make the crossing, would become the world record holder for the longest unassisted open ocean swim, meaning no shark cage or body suit to protect her. She was not using flippers.

Nyad said on Friday that jelly fish stings were one reason for her undoing on an attempt last year, but this time she would be wearing a protective silicone mask to ward off their paralyzing stings.

She said the custom-made mask slows her and makes it more difficult to breathe, so it may take up to three days to complete the swim.

Nyad will have a small fleet of five support boats and a crew of 35 to keep her on course through the strong Gulf Stream current, provide food and water and keep away sharks.

She told reporters on Saturday this would be her last attempt.

“This is the last time, this is the end of the journey as they say, 100 percent,” she said.

The treacherous body of water known as the Florida Straits is the holy grail for marathon swimmers. It has been conquered only once, by Australian Susie Maroney, who used a protective cage at age 22 during her 1997 swim. The cage glided on ocean currents and enabled her to make the journey in just 25 hours.

A native New Yorker, Nyad was raised in south Florida by a French mother and Greek-Egyptian stepfather.

She is an advocate of improved U.S.-Cuba relations and says she repeatedly sings the Cuban song “Guantanamera” as she strokes her way toward Florida.

“I want to be a little part in the relations between Cuba and the United States,” she said on Friday.

Her long-distance accomplishments include swimming around Manhattan island and a swim from the Bahamas to Florida in 1979.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

At 91, Marvel creator Stan Lee continues to…

By Piya Sinha-RoyLOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Marvel Entertainment's chief emeritus Stan Lee may be in his ninth decade, but it hasn't stopped him from adding…

National

Islamic State says beheads U.S. journalist, holds another

Islamic State insurgents released a video purportedly showing the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley, who had gone missing in Syria nearly two years ago.

Local

VIDEO: NYPD seeks shooter in East New York…

Cops are on the lookout for an unknown shooter who aimed and missed hitting a man on a bicycle, instead nearly striking a nearby officer in East New York.

Local

NYS state forces thrift shops comply with ban…

Nine New York City thrift shops were reprimanded by the state attorney general for selling children's clothes with drawstrings around the neck and waist.

Television

'Pretty Little Liars' recap: Season 5, Episode 11,…

Caleb's not a ghost. Spencer might still be an attempted murderer. And Hanna's going to die next week. In other words, we actually got some…

Movies

At 91, Marvel creator Stan Lee continues to…

Marvel Entertainment's Stan Lee is adding outposts to his creative empire to interest a new generation of children in super heroes of all shapes and sizes.

Television

Mira Sorvino explores immortality on 'Intruders'

Mira Sorvino's new show "Intruders" centers around a secret society that achieves immortality by taking over the bodies of other people.

Television

5 things you need to know about new…

"Doctor Who" returns Saturday with a new star, Peter Capaldi. Here's some things to know about him (mainly his turn as sweary spin doctor Malcolm Tucker).

MLB

Shane Greene travels unlikely road to Yankees stardom

Shane Greene was throwing a bullpen session on a quiet field at Daytona Beach Community College one day when the ball started moving.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL tight ends (TE)

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Angels supplant A's, Nationals climb

MLB Power Rankings: Angels supplant A's, Nationals climb

NFL

David Wilson returns to triple jump, sets sights…

Giants fans know David Wilson can jump. They are just more used to seeing him go for backflips, not distance.

Style

11 timeless gifts for registries or just because

Gifts to prove you're a style maven once and for all.

Parenting

How everyday moments can inspire kids' creativity

"The Artist's Way for Parents" author Julia Cameron gives advice on how parents and children can be creative together.

Tech

How to stay safe online

Stop worrying about keeping your online passwords safe, and start worrying about keeping your username a secret. Actually, worry about both. According to Shaun Murphy…

Tech

OpenTable now lets you pay your bill via…

The restaurant app OpenTable added the ability to pay your bill (and tip) with your phone, thus cutting back on a few dining annoyances.