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Nyad resumes swim after jellyfish sting

Sep 24, 2011, 10:48 p.m.
U.S. long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad starts her attempt to swim to Florida from Havana September 23, 2011. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan

MIAMI (Reuters) - Long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad resumed her bid on Sunday to become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida, returning to the water after being stung in the face and eyes, presumably by a jellyfish, her team said.

"She's back in! At 12:20am ET, Diana has re-entered the water," according to a posting on her Twitter account.

Nyad, 62, was treated by doctors on the specially equipped boat accompanying her after she was stung on Saturday night.

She had departed from the Cuban capital, Havana, on Friday evening on her quest to make the 103-mile (166-km) crossing through shark-infested waters, a grueling swim that had been expected to last about 60 hours.

According to a posting before Nyad got back in the water, an independent observer from the International Swim Federation said she could continue the swim if she had only been removed from the water for medical treatment.

"The swim then becomes something called a 'staged swim,' meaning that it may occur in stages," the post said, adding it would still be record-breaking if she resumed the effort.

It is the second time in two months Nyad has attempted the swim. In August, she swam for 29 hours and about 50 miles before abandoning the effort. She said she suffered from asthma for 11 hours of the swim, which drained her strength.

Nyad was swimming "stronger and stronger," a message said earlier in the day, after her pace slowed overnight when she suffered a series of stings from jellyfish-like Portuguese Man o'War and complained of breathing problems.

Stings on her arms, the side of her body and face forced her to tread water for more than an hour. She eventually changed her bathing suit and put on a shirt to cover herself.

Under rules for the record swim attempt, Nyad can stop each hour to take liquids and high-energy food but cannot touch the boat accompanying her. A team of about 30 people is keeping watch over her as she swims.

FIRST ATTEMPTED CROSSING IN 1978

Even though she retired from competitive swimming years ago, Nyad has said she is trying the swim to help people her age and older realize they can still do many things. She said the swim was also an effort to improve U.S.-Cuba relations.

Nyad, who was raised in south Florida, first attempted the crossing from Cuba in 1978 when, at the age of 28, she was at the peak of her career as a marathon swimmer. Heavy seas forced her to give up before reaching Florida.

She has set several world records, including swimming around New York's Manhattan island in 1975 in less than eight hours and completing a 102.5-mile (165-km) swim from Bimini in the Bahamas to Florida in 1979.

The Florida Straits crossing was completed successfully in May 1997 by Australian Susan Maroney, then 22, but she swam in a cage to protect her from sharks.

Nyad is being protected in the warm waters by an anti-shark device that uses a mild electrical current to shield her from the predators.

(Editing by Peter Cooney)

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