HAVANA — Marathon swimmer Penny Palfrey powered through the Straits of Florida on Friday as she attempted a record 103-mile unassisted swim from Cuba to Florida that tests the limits of human endurance and the will of the high seas.
Slathered with sunblock and lubricant to prevent chafing, the British-born Australian bade farewell to onlookers, dove headfirst into the calm, bathwater-warm seas off Havana and began stroking slowly northward with a kayaker as escort.
"There's a lot of work that's gone into this over the past year," Palfrey said
Palfrey estimates that it will take 40 to 50 hours to make the crossing, and the currents will determine where in Florida she comes onshore.
If Palfrey succeeds, she'll go in the record books as the first woman to swim the Straits without the aid of a shark cage. Instead she's relying on equipment that surrounds her with an electrical field to deter the predators.