What started as a lifelong mission for American endurance swimmer Diana Nyad in 1978, has finally been accomplished.

It was in that year of 1978 that Diana Nyad made her first attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. The first time she failed. But she did not give up. This was her goal. Her mission.

swimming map cuba florida

In 2011 she tried again. In vain. But again no giving up.

In 2012 again. This attempt ended amid boat trouble, storms, unfavorable currents and jellyfish stings that left her face puffy and swollen.

Then came 2013 and Nyad who recently turned 64 had another impressive go at it.
This time she wore a full bodysuit, gloves, booties and a mask to help protect her from stings. Before the swim she said the suit slowed her down, but she believed it would be effective.
A 35-person support team accompanied her at sea. Equipment that generates a faint electrical field around her kept sharks at bay, and a boat dragged a line to help keep her on course.


With her lips and tongue swollen Diana made landfall in Florida on Monday 2nd Sept. 2013, succeeding in her attempt to become the first person to swim the treacherous waters from Cuba to Key West without a shark cage.

Nyad had already made it farther than in any of her previous four tries, and she was about five miles (8km) from Florida on Monday morning, according to her representatives.
Doctors traveling with a team of Nyad supporters said her swollen lips and tongue caused her speech to be slurred and they were worried about her breathing, but they did not intervene.

diana swimming

Nyad’s journey began Saturday morning when she jumped from the seawall of the Hemingway Marina into the warm waters off Havana. She had been swimming the Florida Strait ever since, stopping from time to time for nourishment. She had gotten very cold overnight, her team said, so they decided not to stop her to eat and drink in hopes that swimming would keep her warm.

“I admit there’s an ego rush,” Nyad said before the swim began. “If I three days from now, four days from now am still somehow bringing the arms up and I see the shore … I am going to have a feeling that no one yet on this planet has ever had.”

Kickass perseverance paid off for her. And we are glad it did. Congrats to Nyad.

Previous record swims

Australian Susie Maroney successfully swam the Strait in 1997 with a shark cage, which besides protection from the predators, has a drafting effect that pulls a swimmer along. In 2012, Australian Penny Palfrey swam 79 miles toward Florida without a cage before strong currents forced her to abandon the attempt. This June, her countrywoman Chloe McCardel made it 11 hours and 14 miles before jellyfish stings ended her bid.

In 1978, Walter Poenisch, an Ohio baker, claimed to have made the swim using flippers and a snorkel. Critics say there was insufficient independent documentation to verify his claim.

Swimming to Antarctica

All of these are very  impressive swims. And definitely beyong what any normal human could possibly do in the water. But there is one swimmer that did things even beyond every long-distance swimmer’s imagination. Her name is Lynne Cox. Also known as the woman who Swam to Antarctica!!
Previously featured on kickasstrips.com you can read her full story by clicking here.


Sources: TheGuardian, CNN