HAVANA (AP) - Third time's a charm?
Endurance athlete Diana Nyad launched another bid Saturday to set an open-water record by swimming 103 miles (166 kilometers) from Havana to the Florida Keys without a protective shark cage.
Under a blazing afternoon sun at the Hemingway Marina in the Cuban capital, Nyad adjusted her cap and goggles, pointed to the open water, blew a bugle and cried: "Adios amigos! Courage!" Then she leaped in feet first and stroked out toward her support boat.
Less than a week before she turns 63 years old, the Los Angeles woman is attempting a feat that even the fittest of human beings would find daunting. It's a dream that has taken three years of marathon open-water training swims and multiple aborted attempts at the crossing.
In the summer of 2010, unfavorable weather kept her from even setting out. Last year, first a debilitating asthma attack and then painful, dangerous stings from box jellyfish forced her from the water on two separate attempts.
This time Nyad is banking on a custom-made swimsuit to protect her from the jellyfish. It covers her head-to-toe with a pantyhose face and holes only for the eyes, nose and mouth.
It's non-buoyant but still creates drag in the water, so she hopes to don it only at night when jellyfish are more likely to rise to the surface.
"You have to learn from your mistakes. You don't do it the first time," Nyad said at a news conference, deeply tanned with goggle-rings around her eyes. "We need some luck, but we do feel like we've solved all the problems."