BOSTON — The last time Susie Maroney attempted to swim from Cuba to Florida, she tried to keep her sanity by thinking about Seinfeld episodes. But whatever kept the Australian going this time seems to have done the trick.
Yesterday morning, Ms. Maroney became the first swimmer to swim unassisted from Havana to the Florida Keys. Hers was a feat that required immense mental and physical stamina - and is one that other swimmers say rivals climbing Mt. Everest.
Forbidden from touching or grabbing the cage that protected her from sharks, Maroney completed the 112-mile distance in just under 24 hours, at a pace of 4.4 miles per hour.
Her last attempt last June ended in exhaustion and dehydration.
Maroney swam in a 8-by-28-foot steel cage that protected her from the plentiful sharks in the Straits of Florida. The cage was dragged by a Canadian ship. Relatives perched on the cage encouraged and fed her as she swam through the night.
The difference this time seemed to be a large plexiglass shield that protected her cage from the wind. She rested briefly every hour by treading water and taking high-protein drinks. Every five hours she ate chopped bananas and high-protein cakes and drank chocolate milk.
Maroney has swam long distances since she was 14. She holds the record for the Manhattan Island race and the record for the longest distance covered in 24 hours - 58.5 miles.
The longest recorded distance ever swum is 1,826 miles. In 1930, Fred Newton of Clinton, Okla., swam from Minneapolis to New Orleans down the Mississippi River.
He was in the water for 742 hours, although he took regular breaks on shore.