After failing last year (and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that…) to swim the 103 miles from Cuba to Florida, crawl exhausted onto the beaches at Key West, and enjoy a mojito Fidel Castro made and bottled in a small, shark-proof thermos, endurance swimmer Diana Nyad was, as of early this morning, almost 24 unscathed hours into her latest attempt to swim to Florida without the benefit of a shark cage.
If she makes it, the 64-year-old Nyad (who really just has the most sport-appropriate name ever after Usain Bolt) would become the first person to complete the Cuba-t0-Florida leisure swim since Susie Maroney in 1997 (Maroney had a couple of advantages, however: she was a sprightly 22-years-old at the time, and had a shark cage). Nyad made it about 60 hours to through her swim last year when her highly-publicized attempt came to an anticlimactic stop thanks to an overwhelming number and frequency of jellyfish stings, but this year she came prepared — Nyad is wearing a specially-designed prosthetic face mask that, although cumbersome, helps keep the cnidarians from lashing her face with their jellied cat o’ nine tails.
An entourage of about 35 people in two sailboats is accompanying Nyad on her swim. Barring some spiteful aquatic animal (like a shark that doesn’t know the Cold War is over and it’s time to let that shit go), dehydration, inclimate weather, or the whims of a capricious Poseidon, Nyad should reach Florida in another three days of swimming at her current pace — 47 strokes per minute.
Image via AP, Ramon Espinosa