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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Tropical Storm Erika Dissipates; 21 Dead

Storm flags over Cuba, could regain strength over Gulf of Mexico; death toll in Dominica, Haiti is 21
More

Video Cubans Embrace New Internet Connectivity Options

Government has approved use of prepaid cards for web access; some foresee construction of better infrastructure, with towers, fiber-optic cables
More

Brazil's Rousseff Faces Growing Impeachment Threat

President’s woes increasing as she now also faces angry rival who controls the possibility of impeachment proceedings against her
More

Cancer, Transplant Patients Rail at Drug Shortages in Venezuela

Currency controls, slumping production and smuggling have caused acute shortages of medical supplies in the socialist-led nation
More

Guatemalan Prosecutors Urge President to Resign Amid Scandal

Government comptrollers' office also issued a statement saying Perez Molina should resign 'to avoid greater social unrest that could have unpredictable consequences'
More

Bolt Sprints to Double Gold in Beijing

Jamaican's victories take place on track where in 2008 he first made headlines by winning Olympic gold medals in record fashion at Bird's Nest Stadium
More