Storms, stings push Nyad to end Cuba-to-Florida dream swim
KEY WEST, USA (AP) — Diana Nyad ended her fourth attempt in nearly 35 years to swim across the Straits of Florida yesterday, her dream of setting a record thwarted by storms, jellyfish stings, shark threats, hypothermia and swollen lips.
The swimmer was pulled from the water at 12:55 am, her crew reported, as a thunderstorm raged and winds and waves tossed her support boats around. Her team had previously tweeted that she came out of the water at 7:42 am, and offered no explanation for the change.
In a blog posting, crew member Candace Hogan wrote that Nyad angrily shook her head after being pulled from the water and planned to return to finish the swim after the storms subsided.
"When can I get back in?" Hogan 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."
She was aboard a boat headed to the Florida Keys and was likely to arrive yesterday afternoon.
Nyad, who turns 63 today, was making her third attempt since last summer to become the first person to cross the Florida Straits without a shark cage. She also made a failed try with a cage in 1978.
Nyad had previously said this would be her last attempt, though she made the same promise to her friends and handlers last September as she stepped from her boat onto a Key West dock, her lips and limbs red and swollen from jellyfish stings.
"I just don't want to spend the rest of my life trying and failing and trying and failing this, but it's a bear of a swim," Nyad said in Key West last week. "I would hate to stand here again with you next year and say, 'Well, didn't make it again."'
She started this effort Saturday in Havana and lasted longer, and made it farther, than in her previous tries, her
team said. She swam this time for more than 41 hours.
"She realised that the obstacles against this swim were too great and agreed at dawn to return to Key West by boat," Hogan said.
Another team member, Vanessa Linsley, told The Associated Press the swimmer encountered a triple threat of obstacles.
"Instead of getting hit with one doozy they got hit with three," Linsley said. "They got hit with the weather, they got hit with the jellyfish and they got hit with the sharks all at the same time."
Nyad was stung nine times by box jellyfish on Monday night alone, the team blog reported.