KEY WEST (CBS4) — Miami Beach lifeguard Cynthia Aguilar is already an accomplished and award-winning paddle boarder but she wants to be more than that. Aguilar set off Tuesday afternoon from Key West on what she hopes will be a one-of-a-kind, record-breaking paddle-boarding feat that raises money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida.

Aguilar is attempting, for the second time, to paddle 110-miles, crossing from off the Cuban coast to Key West.

Aguilar hopes to become the first solo prone paddle boarder (propelling the board with her hands) to cross the Florida Straits and set a record for the longest nonstop prone paddle.

“It’s only you and the board,” said Aguilar. “You’re using your whole arms to paddle and to propel yourself forward.”

Plans call for her to begin paddling at 8 a.m. Wednesday about 13.8 miles off the Cuban coast. She hopes to complete her journey in Key West 30 to 40 hours later.

Aguilar, a self-described endurance athlete, first attempted a Florida Straits crossing in September 2010, but encountered strong currents and suffered Portuguese Man o’ War stings forcing her to end the effort.

“I know what went wrong last time, and not finishing last time made me even more determined. I’m meant to do it,” said Aguilar. “That was a trial run the first time; this is the real run now. The greatest challenge for this attempt is letting go of the past, moving on and doing what I need to do at this moment, which is cross this body of water,” she said.

In 2007, she completed a 58-mile solo paddle from Bimini to Dania Beach in approximately 19.5 hours. She has also participated in a relay from Cuba to Key West.

Her latest efforts, along with a documentary, are to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida, a non-profit organization dedicated to granting wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions.


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