61-Year Old Tries to Swim from Florida to Cuba

Travel News — By Candice Walsh on August 17, 2011 at 4:51 pm

60+ hours to cross 103 miles in shark-infested waters: endurance swimmer Diana Nyad might not have been able to complete her journey, but the effort definitely deserves some recognition.

Did we mention she’s 61 years old and had to do it all without a wet suit? We feel the need to hit the gym now.

Hoping to be the first person to swim the distance between Havana and Key West without a shark cage, Nyad had been preparing with 8-15 hour swims over the past two years off the island of St. Martin. During her most recent swim, a team following her used an electronic boom to send out a current that would ward off sharks, but without interfering with the swimmer’s route.

Image: the chart

Despite Nyad’s hard work, it seems like the feat just wasn’t meant to happen, however. The athlete had previously attempted the crossing back in 1978, but unfortunately failed. During this attempt, after about 29 hours of swimming, Nyad was pulled out of the water vomiting and exhausted.

Sounds like a crazy endeavor, huh? Turns out long-distance endurance swims are more common than you’d think. Back in 1998, Australian Susie Maroney swam 122 miles from Mexico to Cuba without flippers…and she was born with cerebral palsy.

Don’t worry, Nyad! You’re still a hero in our eyes. After all, setting the world record back in 1979 for open-water swimming without a shark cage at 102.5 miles is a pretty big deal.

Tags: athletes, Diana Nyad, endurance swimming, Susan Maroney

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