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Cuba-to-Florida swimmer about a third of way across Florida straits

HAVANA — Endurance athlete Diana Nyad forged ahead through the Straits of Florida with renewed vigor Sunday in pursuit of a record 103-mile, unassisted swim in open waters without the aid of a shark cage.

The 62-year-old Los Angeles woman was said to be comfortable, confident and steady at around 50 strokes per minute after a harrowing night of painful jellyfish encounters — despite an improved bodysuit she had hoped would offer better protection.

Nyad, trying to swim from Cuba to the Florida Keys, was stung four times during the night on the neck, lips, hand and forehead, according to members of her 50-member crew who updated fans through social media.

"Today is more like swimming," one member quoted her as saying, via Twitter. "I don't know what you would call last night ... probably surviving."

Sunday evening, about 26 hours into the swim, Nyad had traveled 27.7 miles and was taking advantage of "ideal conditions" with calm seas and little wind. Video posted on her website showed her on a break joking

Nyad, who turns 63 Wednesday, is making her third attempt since last summer at a cage-less crossing of the Straits of Florida. She also made a failed try with a cage in 1978.

A kayak-borne apparatus shadowing Nyad helps keep sharks at bay by generating a faint electric field not noticeable to humans.

The team expects Nyad will take at least 60 hours to complete the swim, meaning she would arrive in the Florida Keys sometime Tuesday.

Cuba-to-Florida swimmer about a third of way across Florida straits 08/19/12 [Last modified: Monday, August 20, 2012 7:08am]
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