KEY LARGO (CBSMiami/FKNB) – Marathon swimmer Diana Nyad is hoping the fourth time will be the charm.
On Thursday, she tweeted out that she planned to begin another attempt to swim from Cuba to the Florida Keys this Sunday.
Nyad has spent weeks training in Key West and monitoring the weather for a favorable window.
It was a feat she first attempted in 1978, when she was 28 years old. After a more than 30-year lapse she announced in 2010 that she was going to try again. But by the time she had the necessary Cuban government paperwork, her weather window had expired.
In 2011, she tried twice. She was foiled by shoulder pain and a debilitating in-water asthma attack in August during her first attempt. About a month later, multiple severe jellyfish stings ended the second..
Though she stated after the third attempt she would not try again, time changed her mind.
“People often in their lives — I don’t care whether it’s in the middle of their marriages, or their political careers or their athletic careers — they come to a point where they say, ‘That’s it. I can’t do any more. I’ve had it. I’ve tried my hardest.’ And I felt that way last year,” Nyad said. “And then you have time to think about it and you get another few months of living, and hoping again gets rekindled.”
During the 2012 swim, Nyad will be accompanied by kayakers with electronic shark repelling devices instead of swimming in a shark cage as she did in 1978. Her support team will provide liquids and food at regular intervals.
Each night she plans to wear a full-body suit made of modern textiles with a cross-hatched weave to protect against jellyfish stings.
“No neoprene, but it’s got a hood, it’s got a pantyhose face with eyes and a mouth cut out in it, and the little booties, the little gloves,” Nyad said. “I’ll just be darned if the jellyfish are going to stop me from coming across again.”
According to Nyad, lessons learned during her previous attempts have helped her prepare for the crossing she described as “a bear of a swim” fraught with challenges including treacherous currents.
While her goal is to land somewhere in the Florida Keys, the currents and the Gulf Stream will determine the exact spot.
“Frankly, I don’t care where I land,” she said. “When I see land, I’m just going to say, ‘Hallelujah!’ and I’m going to kiss the ground when I get there.”
If she succeeds, Nyad will be the first person to swim across the Florida Straits from Cuba to the Florida Keys without a shark cage. Australian swimmer Susie Maroney accomplished the crossing with a shark cage in 1997.
The Florida Keys News Bureau contributed to this report.