KEY WEST (CBS4) – After a failed third attempt over the weekend to swim from Cuba to the Florida Keys, Diana Nyad has said she won’t try again.
Late Sunday morning, Nyad ended her attempt due to multiple painful stings from Portuguese Man o’ War and box jellyfish which covered her body; her medical team was concerned that further stings could prove serious or even fatal.
“When it hit, the pain was paralyzing,” Nyad said of the first sting, displaying her still visible welts.
According to one of her team members, Nyad had completed 92.2 statute miles and been in the water for more than 36 hours, with four additional hours spent on a support boat being treated by her medical team, when she ended the marathon attempt.
Nyad had hoped to land in Islamorada, about 160 miles as the crow flies from Havana. The entire crossing was estimated to take approximately 60 hours.
At a press conference on Monday, Nyad praised her supporters’ dedication and medical team’s skill, while occasionally appearing near tears,
“It’s not easy for me to let go if this dream and I’m in distress about it, because that’s what an athlete does — they have dreams,” she said. “But I don’t want to be a tragic hero.”
Nyad’s current attempt came less then seven weeks after she aborted her second Cuba-to-Key-West try because of shoulder pain and a debilitating in-water asthma attack.
Despite believing she is physically capable to make the swim, Nyad said she has no plans to mount another attempt.
“These box jellyfish, Portuguese Man o’ War, they’re too much for me,” she said. “And I have to be, I think, gracious enough to the ocean and the powers that are beyond us little mortals, to let go of this and remember that I did dream big — I will continue to dream big.”
In 1978, Nyad first attempted to swim from Cuba to Florida. After being in the water for 41 hours and 49 minutes then, she had to quit because of strong currents and rough weather.
Even if Nyad was successful, she would not have been the first person to swim across the Florida Straits from Cuba to Key West. Australian swimmer Susie Maroney accomplished that in 1997. She would, however, have been the first woman to paddle cross the Straits without a shark cage.
(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Florida Keys News Bureau Press contributed to this report.)