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Diana Nyad swim from Cuba to Florida ends after 29 hours

Diana Nyad swim: The 61-year-old ended her attempt to swim 103 miles from Cuba to Florida early Tuesday morning. The swim, if completed, was supposed to take 60 hours.

By Staff writer / August 9, 2011

American endurance swimmer Diana Nyad, swims in Cuban waters, offshore Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Aug. 7. Nyad jumped into Cuban waters Sunday evening and set off in a bid to become the first person to swim across the Florida Straits without the aid of a shark cage. Nyad's Twitter feed read early Tuesday morning, the 61-year-old distance swimmer's swim ended around 29 hours into the estimated 60-hour, 103-mile swim.

Franklin Reyes/AP

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"The combination of factors was too much to safely continue."

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So read Diana Nyad's Twitter feed early this morning, and so ended the 61-year-old distance swimmer's swim from Cuba to the tip of the Florida Keys around 29 hours into the estimated 60-hour, 103-mile swim.

To put that into perspective: One mile (about 1,650 yards swimming) in your typical 25-yard pool is about 33 laps. It would take the average swimmer about an hour to swim that.

"It felt like this was my moment. I don't feel like a failure at all. But we needed a little more luck," she posted to her Twitter feed.

Her fans don't seem to think 29 hours was too shabby either, "so 61 yr old @diananyad 'only' made it 1/2way to Cuba? officially ceasing my whining about being old. #wow," posted Paul Radar online.

Ms. Nyad retired from swimming and took up sports journalism some three decades ago, but in January 2010 decided to work toward accomplishing the swim she had aborted when she was 28.

The Cuba-to-US swim was completed by Australia's Susan Maroney in 1997, so to make hers a record-breaking swim Nyad swam without a shark cage. She relied instead on an electrical field, kayakers, divers, and a team to keep her safe in the shark-infested waters. In 1978, Nyad quit after swimming 41 hours and 49 minutes because of strong currents and rough weather that banged her around in the shark cage.

Nyad began her swim at Marina Hemingway on the western outskirts of the Cuban capital, Havana, at 7:45 p.m. Sunday evening. Reports indicated that she swam strongly for more than 24 hours before running into rough water and strong currents that pushed her off course.

"Earlier in the evening," according to a tweet on her page, "she was surrounded by dolphins and a beautiful Caribbean sunset. But strong currents blew her 15 mph off course."

Coincidentally, Nyad's last name is an alternate spelling of "naiad," the water nymph of Greek mythology.

The veteran swimmer has said that one of her goals in attempting the Cuba-to-Florida swim again was to prove that age doesn't have to mean giving up goals or achievements. Another thing she hoped to do was to help improve understanding between cold war rivals Cuba and the United States, even if just symbolically.

“To swim between these two neighbors, Cuba & the United States, who’ve been strangers all these years, is a moving thing for me,” she said according to her Twitter feed.

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