Diana Nyad is ready to give the Cuba-to-Florida swim one last try.
The 64-year-old distance swimmer has made four attempts to cross the Florida Strait, but water conditions and fatigue forced her to give up each attempt. Nyad said she has been haunted by those failed trips.
“I just hadn’t reached the end. I hadn’t reached the wall where there’s nothing more to give. If I don’t make it, I will this time be able to look myself in the mirror and say, ‘There’s nothing more.’ “
Nyad first attempted the Florida-to-Cuba swim in 1978, but rough seas forced her to quit halfway through. She tried again twice in 2011, but jellyfish stings forced her to halt both of those attempts.
Last summer Nyad made it halfway through the 103-mile swim before she was pulled from the water. Mark Sollinger, who leads the five-boat support team following Nyad along the journey, said the swimmer’s lips and face were swollen from jellyfish stings and she was suffering exhaustion.
Nyad said she this time she has a new strategy to combat the jellyfish — she’s planning to wear a full body suit and custom mask that protects against stings.
“The box jellyfish takes you into an area of what I’d call science fiction,” she said. “You feel like you’ve been dipped in hot burning oil. You burst into flames.”
Crew members say the 64-year-old Nyad is more than capable of completing the swim, as long as her body can hold up.
“We all know her mind can handle it,” Candace Hogan, a crew member traveling with Nyad, wrote in a blog last summer. “But there will always be a point where a human body can’t go any farther. What no one knows is where that line is drawn in Diana Nyad.”
If she can finish the swim, Diana Nyad will be the first person to swim across the Florida Strait without a shark cage.