Diana Nyad to Begin Swim from Cuba to United States

Havana, Aug 7 (Prensa Latina) The 61-year-old U.S. swimmer Diana Nyad said Sunday that she will attempt to swim the 166 kilometers from Cuba to the United States in what she called a symbolic gesture.

“I love Cuba and I would like my attempt to serve to connect these two countries,” Nyad said in a Sunday morning press conference at the Marina Hemingway’s International Nautical Club west of Havana.

Nyad said she expected to begin the swim Sunday night from the Marina Hemingway and expects it will take her about 60 hours to reach Florida.

The experienced open-water long-distance swimmer first attempted this swim in 1978 and had to stop after high waves and strong currents had pushed her too far off course.

She will not use a shark cage, but rowers in kayaks will use electric “shark shields” to frighten off sharks, which are abundant in the Florida Strait.

The most difficult challenge, however, will be the so-called Gulf current, which could drag her eastward, along with swells caused by wind and the risk of hypothermia, Nyad said.

Every 45 minutes, she will stop for 20 seconds to drink water and energy drinks, and every 1.5 hours, she will stop moving her arms and ingest food or change her goggles.

The veteran open-water swimmer said she would fight solitude by humming songs like “Guantanamera,” the only Cuban song she knows.

In 1979, Nyad swam the 102 nautical miles between Bimini Island in the Bahamas to Florida.

She will be accompanied by a flotilla of five yachts and a team of 45 supporters.

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