Portuguese Man O'War Doesn't Halt Nyad's Swim to Cuba

Sep 26, 2011, 09:19 by R.E. Christian

Sexagenarian endurance swimmer Diana Nyad completed her first 24 hours in the water Saturday evening in her bid to swim 103 miles from Cuba to Florida.

Nyad's Web site reported that as the 62-year-old swimmer passed the 24-hour mark she had totaled about 64,825 strokes despite a debilitating encounter with a Portuguese Man O' War. It wasn't clear how many miles she had covered but the number of strokes indicated a slower pace over time. She had nearly 24,000 strokes in her first 7 hours.

But her support team said in a late-morning post that Nyad "seems to be gaining strength."

"Her rest times per hour are less and less," the statement said. "At 10:55 a.m., she just had a hydration and a full feeding, and her stroke is beginning to be stronger."

Earlier, her Web site reported the run-in with the jellyfish had seemed to affect her breathing and slowed her pace to fewer than 50 strokes per minute.

"At 5:50 a.m. EDT, Diana stopped her freestyle stroke and complained that she couldn't breathe properly, that she wasn't getting oxygen to her muscles," her Web site said. "Two doctors from the University of Miami sped out � and administered a prednisone shot along with oxygen and other medications."

Nyad and her flotilla were only about 25 miles out of Cuba Saturday morning, however, her team predicted she would make it to the Sunshine State.

Nyad started her watery journey in Havana Friday evening with hopes of arriving on Florida's shore about 60 hours later. If successful, she would own the world record for longest ocean swim without a shark cage.

The New York native tried the feat in early August but injuries and allergies forced her to give up after nearly 29 hours and 60 miles.

The International Swimming Hall of Fame member has a history of long-distance success. In 1979, she swam from Bimini in the Bahamas to Florida, setting a distance record for non-stop swimming without a wetsuit. In 1975, she set the record for swimming around New York's Manhattan Island.

Source: UPI