Friday, 24 August 2012

Cuba-US Swimmer Quits After Jellyfish Stings

Grandmother Diana Nyad has given up on her fourth attempt to swim from Cuba to the US after being circled by sharks and stung repeatedly by jellyfish.

Pictures show a huge amount of swelling on her face after she was stung by box jellyfish nine times on Monday night alone, as divers tried to drive away sharks stalking her in the black water.

She was hoping to become the first person to swim the 103-mile stretch between Havana and Florida without a shark cage.

But, as a thunderstorm raged and tossed her five support boats around, her team plucked her to safety after nearly 42 hours in the water.

She had set off on Saturday from Havana and hoped to make the Florida Keys on Tuesday, a day ahead of her 63rd birthday.

But it would have taken her another 28 to 40 hours to complete the crossing when she was thwarted by storms, hypothermia and swollen lips.

In a blog posting, crew member Candace Hogan wrote that Ms Nyad angrily shook her head after being pulled from the water and planned to finish the swim after the winds calmed.

"When can I get back in?" she quoted the swimmer as saying. "I want full transparency that I was out. But I have plenty left in me and I want to go on."

"However, the storm went on, too. In a long discussion with her core team, she realised that the obstacles against this swim were too great and agreed at dawn to return to Key West by boat, for the sake of the safety of her team and herself."

She said the winds were so strong they were tossing her support vessel "up and down on the waves like a paper cup".

Ms Nyad had previously said this would be her last attempt, although she made the same promise the last time she attempted the "bear of a swim".

Australian Susie Maroney successfully swam the Florida Straits in 1997, but she used a shark cage.

In June, another Australian, Penny Palfrey, made it 79 miles towards Florida without a cage before strong currents forced her to quit.

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