News / Americas

Australian Woman Attempts Record Swim From Cuba to US

Australian long-distance swimmer Chloe McCardel starts her attempt to swim to Florida from Havana June 12, 2013
Australian long-distance swimmer Chloe McCardel starts her attempt to swim to Florida from Havana June 12, 2013
Reuters
Under a bright, tropical sun, Australian Chloe McCardel jumped into a calm, crystal-clear sea on Wednesday and began her quest to become the first person to make the 103 mile (166 km) swim from Cuba to the United States without a shark cage.
 
If all goes well, she hopes to swim through the Straits of Florida in about 60 hours and reach Key West on Friday night.
 
McCardel will use a team of scientists in the United States to help guide her through the Gulf Stream, the powerful and unpredictable current that has stymied many previous attempts.
 
Only one person, Australian Susie Maroney in 1997, has completed the Cuba-U.S. swim, but she used a shark cage, which helps cut through the water.
 
Wearing a black bathing suit and rubber cap, McCardel, 28, and husband Paul McQueeney lathered her body with a whitish goop to protect against the sun and chafing.
 
“I'm really excited, I'm trying to stay calm and relaxed and just think about the finish,” said the blonde, muscled swimmer whose past accomplishments include two back-and-forth  crossings of the English Channel.
 
“It'll be tough, though. It's not going to be an easy ride, but we'll get through it as a team,” she told reporters as she prepared to jump into the straits from a promontory at Havana's Hemingway Marina, the traditional starting point of Cuba-U.S. swims.
 
McCardel said she is making the swim to encourage donations for cancer research, which can be made on her website www.chloemccardel.com, and to encourage better U.S.-Cuba relations, which have been sour since the Caribbean island's 1959 revolution.
 
SHARKS, JELLYFISH, STORMS
 
McCardel will face the dangers of sharks, stinging jellyfish and unpredictable weather as she heads north.
 
She'll be surrounded underwater by an electromagnetic field from a device held in the water that wards off sharks.
 
Her swim has been timed with the season and moon phase to minimize the presence of the venomous box jellyfish, which have plagued previous swimmers, including American Diana Nyad who was stung repeatedly in August on her fourth failed attempt at the crossing.
 
Even though the forecast calls for calm seas and light winds, conditions can change quickly in the straits, brewing up wave-churning squalls that wreak havoc with long swims.
 
The scientific team, part of a small army of 50 people assisting McCardel, is a new twist to the swim, which is considered the Holy Grail of marathon swimming because of the dangers and the distance. McCardel said it is 50 percent farther than the current record swim.
 
McCardel told reporters on Tuesday that the scientists are all experts on the Gulf Stream, which changes constantly as it courses west to east through the straits, and will use real time data on its currents to create computer models forecasting what lies ahead.
 
Last summer, British-born Australian Penny Palfrey got tantalizingly close to the Florida Keys but couldn't finish when she swam into a Gulf Stream eddy that pushed her in the wrong direction.
 
In theory, that kind of setback can be avoided because the crew of McCardel's accompanying boat, the Sunluver, will be warned and can lead her around adverse conditions.
 
Under marathon swimming rules, McCardel cannot touch the boat or hang on to anything while she makes the crossing.
 
She'll pause briefly every 30 minutes to gulp down a nutrient-fortified liquid meal from a bottle.
 
As the swim goes on, she'll have to battle through fatigue from the extreme physical exertion of her swim and a lack of sleep.
 
But no worries, just before jumping into the sea she was sure enough of her success to invite the commodore of the marina to a party in Key West on Friday night.
 
“(I'm) as confident as I can be ... I think it's all going to work out well,” she said.

You May Like

Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Accuses Russia of Territorial Incursionsi
X
Zlatica Hoke
August 28, 2014 4:07 AM
Ukraine says a key border town (Novoazovsk) and surrounding areas of in southeastern Ukraine have fallen under the control of Russia's military. President Poroshenko says "Russian troops have actually been brought into Ukraine." Despite repeated denials from Moscow, Ukraine accuses the Kremlin of providing weapons and fighters to separatists in eastern Ukraine, toward the Russian leadership's alleged goal of annexing that strategic territory. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Accuses Russia of Territorial Incursions

Ukraine says a key border town (Novoazovsk) and surrounding areas of in southeastern Ukraine have fallen under the control of Russia's military. President Poroshenko says "Russian troops have actually been brought into Ukraine." Despite repeated denials from Moscow, Ukraine accuses the Kremlin of providing weapons and fighters to separatists in eastern Ukraine, toward the Russian leadership's alleged goal of annexing that strategic territory. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

New Brazil Poll Shows Silva Beating Rousseff in Runoff

Outcome seemed unimaginable just a few weeks ago; would put an end to 12 years of Workers' Party rule
More

Argentina Desires Deal Grouping All Holdout Investors Together

A deal is now not seen likely before next year's October presidential election, in which Fernandez cannot run
More

Hurricane Cristobal Kills Four, Moves Toward Bermuda

Storm is not expected to threaten US, but could cause deadly surf and rip currents from Florida to North Carolina
More

Peru's Congress Narrowly OKs Humala's New Cabinet on 3rd Vote

Lawmakers ratify president's embattled cabinet after ruling party offers to suspend rule requiring independent workers to pay into a pension program
More

Brazil's Deadly Prison Riot Ends

Officials say two inmates were beheaded during the Cascavel riot; two others were thrown to their deaths from the roof, and police are investigating how a fifth inmate died
More

Amid Slowdown, Chileans Adjust to New Economic Reality

Most economists now predict overall growth in country's economy of between 2.0 and 2.5 percent this year, down from 4.1 percent in 2013
More