Jellyfish "ambush" ends Australian woman's record Cuba-U.S. swim

Thu Jun 13, 2013 4:51pm EDT
 
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By Michael Haskins

KEY WEST, Florida (Reuters) - Australian long-distance swimmer Chloe McCardel was making good headway in calm seas at dusk when she suddenly hit a stinging swarm of jellyfish, eventually forcing her to abandon her quest to become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage.

"It felt like explosions hitting my body," she told reporters on Thursday after returning to Key West.

McCardel, 28, was pulled from the water on Wednesday night. She said the stings were so numerous she was paralyzed from the waist down by the pain and forced to gave up the attempt 11 hours into the 103 mile marathon swim.

Despite being stung repeatedly on her arms, legs and back by venomous box jellyfish tentacles McCardel kept going for 20 to 30 minutes, said team spokesman, Matt Nelson.

When crew members saw her trying to remove a tentacle from her face and mouth, one of her team jumped into the water to help, but the damage was done.

Aboard one of the team's support vessels, McCardel's husband and crew chief, Paul McCardel, decided it was too risky to continue and ordered her out of the water.

"We were worried about breathing issues. It just got too dangerous," Nelson said.

Unlike bee stings, jellyfish tentacles keep stinging as long as they are in contact with the skin. "The tentacles wrap around you and they have to be peeled off," he said.   Continued...

 
Australian long-distance swimmer Chloe McCardel shows jellyfish stings after giving up her quest to become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage 11 hours into the 103 mile (166 km) marathon swim in Key West, Florida June 13, 2013. REUTERS/Michael Haskins