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

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Brazil’s State Oil Company Takes Massive Loss From Corruption

Investigation has resulted, so far, in indictment of 97 people on charges of corruption, forming cartels and money laundering
More

Colorful Macaws Bring Beauty to Chaotic Caracas

Long-tailed birds color Venezuelan capital's sky, giving its 5 million residents a moment of quiet respite from noise and crime
More

Colombia's ELN Rebels: Peace Talks Near, Rule Out Jail

Commander's comments come as pressure mounts for President Santos to conclude peace talks with far larger FARC group and to show progress with ELN
More

Photogallery Chile Volcano Still Puffing; Flights Canceled in Argentina

Calbuco, which erupted Wednesday without warning, continues to spew ash, smoke
More

Former Spy Master Flees Argentina Amid Threats

Antonio Stiuso contends government is trying to sully his reputation following death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman
More

Chile, Argentina Cancel Flights as Volcanic Ash Cloud Spreads

Argentina's meteorology service forecast ash cloud could reach La Pampa; more than 4,000 people have been evacuated from immediate area
More