Diana Nyad presses ahead in Cuba-Florida swim

Sat Sep 24, 2011 4:42pm EDT
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By Kevin Gray

MIAMI (Reuters) - American long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad stroked in the Florida Straits on Saturday, enduring stinging sea creatures as she pressed ahead in her latest bid to become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage.

Nyad, 62, departed from the Cuban capital of Havana Friday evening on her quest to make the 103-mile (166-km) crossing through shark-infested waters, a grueling swim expected to last a total of around 60 hours.

It is the second time in two months Nyad has attempted the swim. In August, she swam for 29 hours and about 50 miles before abandoning the effort. She said she suffered from asthma for 11 hours of the swim, which drained her strength.

She was about a third of the way to Florida by Saturday afternoon, moving through calm waters, according to her Twitter account.

At one point, a white tipped shark was spotted in her vicinity but eventually swam away as one of Nyad's safety divers approached it.

Nyad was swimming "stronger and stronger," a message said, after her pace slowed overnight when she suffered a series of stings from jellyfish-like Portuguese Man o'War and complained of breathing problems.

Stings on her arms, the side of her body and face forced her to tread water for more than an hour. She eventually changed her bathing suit and put on a shirt to cover herself.


<p>U.S. long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad starts her attempt to swim to Florida from Havana September 23, 2011. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan</p>