In her fifth endeavor to swim the perfidious Florida Straits, Diana Nyad is 10-miles away from her record-setting 112 mile goal.
Diana’s mission is to swim from Hemingway Marina in Havana, Cuba through the Florida Straits into Smathers Beach in Key West. The Florida Straits are well-known for their treachery and Nyad, 64, will be sharing this journey to victory uncaged with the company of unexpected storms, a strong gulf stream, stinging jellyfish and more fearsome than all other elements, sharks!
If accomplished, Nyad will be the first swimmer to finish the swim without the protection of a shark cage. And it appears the fifth time is a charm for the just turned 64-year old swimmer, as on Monday, representatives of Nyad say she is under 10-miles from the finish.
This swimming accomplishment is not an easy one to make and in the past others have attempted this feat and failed. Australian swimmer Chloe McCardel, 28 swam the channel, but after 11 hours in the water was stung by a jellyfish ending her journey.
Another Australian made the swimming journey. In 2012, 54-year old Penny Palfrey swam 78 miles, but had to call it quits as the strong currents kept pushing her away from the Keys.
The only person to make the fierce passage was Australian Susie Maroney, but she made use of a shark cage by hanging on to it while being pulled by a boat. Or so were the accusations against her.
The International Swimming Hall of Fame does not recognize Susie’s feat under the traditional English Channel swimming rules, which forbids swimmers to use mechanical aids of any type.
Nyad, an endurance swimmer, is making good time. Despite Sunday’s storm carrying winds of 23 knots and problems with nausea, 64-year old Nyad is clipping the water uncaged at around 51 strokes a minute heading for victory. The currents also have her back- assisting her in a two mile per hour swimming average.
The 64-year old is no spring chicken having to battle with lack of sleep, dehydration and of course the natural elements assaulting her from the sea.
Her website www.diananyad.com posted her anticipated arrival date today between 4 to 6 p.m. After 80 hours in the water, the swimmer has taken many water treading breaks to replenish her energy.
In 1978, 35-years ago, Nyad had this dream of swimming through the Florida Straits. She first attempted the long anticipated swim with the help of a shark cage, but was unsuccessful. After her failed attempt, she gave up swimming for decades.
But the draw of swimming the Florida Straits continued to gnaw at her soul. So at the age of 60, when most senior citizens are thinking about retirement, Medicare and playing a round of golf, Nyad jumped back in the water to retrain and condition her body for the soul-searching swim.
In 2011 was her second attempt at the Straits. However, an asthma attack and shoulder pain prevented her success. Being stung by a jellyfish halted her third attempt months later. And wouldn’t you know in 2012, the jellyfish was back again on her forth attempt this time stinging her on the face.
This time in attempt number five, the only protection Nyad will use is a jellyfish protection suit along with a facemask, which is giving her problems swimming and chaffing the heck out of her face.
Diana also has a 35-person support team and 5 boats guiding her through this swimming feat. One diver is in the water with her to spot any jellyfish maliciously lurking about.
At 10:40 a.m. this morning, Diana’s website reveals that the 64-year old swimmer is 2-miles away from her victory site and is thankful to all who followed her and supported her through the years. The swimmer is a prime example that the youth inside one’s soul can always be uncaged.
Written by Lisa Graziano