Monday, September 2, 2013

Record Cuba to Florida swim nears end


  • NEW: Nyad may reach land between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. ET, her team estimates

  • NEW: Nyad’s tongue swollen, team says, giving her slurred but understandable speech

  • Swimmer already has broken previous no-cage distance record

  • 64-year-old Nyad is making her fifth and final attempt to make 103-mile swim

(CNN) — Diana Nyad is just a few miles shy of a goal she’s been chasing for more than 35 years, but the strain of more than two days of swimming is showing.

Nyad, 64, is on her fifth attempt to swim the 103 miles from Cuba to Florida without a protective cage or flippers.

Only 6.5 miles from Key West around 7:30 a.m. ET Monday, Nyad had a swollen tongue and lips 46 hours into her swim, her support team reported on its website.

She has never before come so close to Florida in previous attempts, and the wear on her body is apparent. As the team called her around dawn for her first feeding since midnight, she took longer than normal to reach the support boat, the report said.

Though she slurred her speech, the words were understandable. Before resuming her swim-crawl to Key West, her team applied a “sting stopper” substance to her forehead and cheeks in the hopes of warding off jellyfish stings.

“Don’t get it on my nose or eyes,” she said, according to her website.

Diana Nyad breaks distance record

Diana Nyad to try again

She had gotten so cold overnight, the team didn’t stop her for feeding until first light “in the hopes that swimming would keep her warm,” the website said.

Nyad, who began the swim from Cuba on Saturday morning, may be in position to reach land between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. ET, the website said Monday morning.

Every stroke she swims puts her deeper into record territory. On Sunday night she broke Penny Palfrey’s record for the farthest anyone has managed on the trek without a shark cage.

In 1997, Australian Susie Maroney completed the swim from within a shark cage. She was 22 at the time.

Nyad’s website reported the leaders of her five-boat support team were planning her final route into Key West, taking into account tides, currents, shipping lanes, reefs and “swarms of jellyfish.”

“Diana has stopped numerous times to tread water trying to restore herself,” Nyad’s navigator, John Bartlett, said in a website post at 5 a.m., 44 hours into the swim.

Nyad has been wearing a jellyfish protection suit, and also has available a special mask to prevent jellyfish stings to her tongue — a key factor in her failed attempt in August 2012.

Thunderstorms also helped thwart her last year.

The weather this weekend was much better until 11 p.m. Sunday, when the support team reported winds rose suddenly and a thunderstorm appeared headed toward Nyad’s path.

But just before 1 a.m. Monday, the team reported on Twitter: “Diana is swimming strong, everyone is safe, the winds are dying down, and we think we see the glow of Key West! “

Bartlett wrote on her website earlier that a favorable Gulf Stream had helped her achieve an average speed of 2.2 miles per hour.

Bartlett said currents will be “smaller but less predictable” as Nyad nears Florida.

Handler Bonnie Stoll wrote on the site Sunday that Nyad was in good spirits.

“The only concern is that she is throwing up everything she eats. She’s quite nauseous from sea salt, but that’s to be expected,” said Stoll. “We’re giving her enough calories and nutrition. We’re just going to keep feeding her, and we hope that some of it is going down. She’s not weak. Her stroke count hasn’t changed.”

Nyad set out from Havana at 8:59 a.m. Saturday with a crew of 35, including divers to watch for sharks.

The Los Angeles woman has said this is her final attempt. She said on her website that she wants to prove “it’s never too late to chase your dream.”

CNN’s Patrick Oppmann from Havana, Cuba, and Jason Hanna, John Zarrella and Matt Sloane contributed to this report.



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Record Cuba to Florida swim nears end

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