61-year-old American Quits Cuba-Florida Swim Due to Poor Health

World | August 9, 2011, Tuesday // 13:16|  views

US swimmer Diana Nyad had to quit her challenge of swimming the 166 kilometers between Cuba and the South of Florida in 60 hours due to poor health. Photo by BGNES

61-year-old endurance swimmer Diana Nyad has had to give up her attempt to become the first person to swim the 166km between Cuba and Florida without a shark cage.

29 hours after she jumped into the watter, Nyad was hauled out of the water due to bouts of vomitting, CNN reported.

The veteran open-water swimmer also complained of shoulder pain and asthma attacks.

She set off from Havana's Marina Hemingway on Sunday with the aim of reaching Key West in the Florida Keys on Wednesday.

Nyad started her swim accompanied by a 45-member support team, including doctors, nutritionists and navigators.

In the course of the planned 60-hour marathon, she was supposed to stop every 45 minutes for a 20-second hydration break and to rest for 2 minutes every 1.5 hours to eat some bread or a spoonful of peanut butter.

During the second day of the swim, Nyad was expected to start drinking heated water and hot chocolate to ward off hypothermia.

Instead of a shark cage, Nyad was protected by rowers in kayaks using electric "shark shields" to frighten off sharks, which are abundant in the Florida Strait.

Nyad first tried to swim the crossing between Cuba and Florida in 1978, when she was 28, but was forced to abandon her plans after a 40-hour swim due to the winds and heavy waves.

In 1997, the 166km stretch was covered by 22-year-old Australian Susan Maroney, who, however, used a shark cage for protection.

It took Nyad two years of daily six-, eight, 10- or 12-hour swims to get into shape for the marathon.

She also needed several months to obtain a permit from the Cuban and the American authorities.

Nyad's swim was a symbolic gesture aimed at inspiring people to live vigorously during their golden years.

In her words, the attempt was also intended to boost understanding between the United States and Cuba, two nations torn by five decades of animosity and mistrust.

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Tags: open water swimming, swimmer, Marathon, Cuba, Florida


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