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

    Saudi Arabia’s New Female Politicians in the Other Room 

    Many in Saudi Arabia say elected representatives should share unsegregated spaces; according to a recent survey, more than half the Saudi population, both men and women, prefer to work in a segregated place

    Russia Not ‘Apologetic’ for Syria Airstrikes

    With Moscow criticized for targeting armed opponents of President Assad, Russia’s UN envoy says his country ‘acting in a very transparent manner’

    Pakistan Warns of Islamic State's Growing Reach

    Aftab Sultan, General Director General of Intelligence Bureau (IB), briefed Senate Committee in closed hearing, saying that IS-linked groups have been expanding in Pakistan

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.

    More Americas News

    Research Strengthens Link Between Zika, Birth Defects

    Findings may be most compelling evidence yet that birth defects associated Zika may be caused by replication of the virus in the brain

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Worldwide cooperation, communication crucial in efforts to contain and control future viral outbreaks, experts say

    Power Rationing Forces Cuts in Hours at Venezuelan Malls

    Shopping centers told to generate own electricity in early afternoon, evening hours; move follows drought that hit hydroelectric generating systems

    In Cuba, Racial Inequality Deepens With Tourism Boom

    As capitalism creeps in more than 60 years after revolution that promised social equality, local residents, analysts concerned about gap between haves and have nots

    Video WFP: 3.6 Million Haitians Face Food Insecurity

    Half of Haiti's population works in agriculture; Around 75 percent live on less than $2 per day

    Video Olympics Technology Center Getting Ready for 2016 Games

    This year, the whole system will be cloud-based, enabling millions of fans around the world instant access to relevant information about the competition