Early this morning, endurance athlete Diana Nyad was forced to end her attempt to become the first person to swim from Havana, Cuba to South Florida. Nyad, an out lesbian and record-breaking swimmer, was accompanied on the 100-mile-plus journey by a flotilla of support crew (including a number of hunky shark divers whose job was to distract the seafaring predators).
It’s an unfortunate end to this journey for Nyad, who turns 63 tomorrow.
Sine Saturday, she’s spent nearly 42 hours in the water, enduring sunburn, dehydration, extreme exhaustion and “spine-rattling pain” from multiple jellyfish stings.
Her first attempt to cross the ocean was in 1978; this week was her fourth, which she dubbed her Xtreme Dream, and Nyad managed to swim farther than she did at age 28. But inclement weather threatened her safety and the ability of her support crew to respond quickly to any dangers. Additionally, there’s been a precipitous increase in poisonous jellyfish that Nyad didn’t face in the late’70s. (The Los Angeles Times traces that particular problem to the rise of destructive ocean slime).
Nyad “did not realize her dream, but she will write another chapter in her book,” notes a member of her support crew on her official blog. She is in Florida now, recovering.
Photos: Christi Barli/DianaNyad.com.