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Four women to paddleboard from Cuba to Key West

Three Florida lifeguards and a California artist will try to make history by paddling 112 miles from Cuba to Key West _ using just their arms.

They will attempt to set the women's long-distance paddleboard world record in an obscure but growing sport.

Broward County lifeguards Christine McCrady, Aline Paterson and Kelley Jo Helt, and Ramona d'Viola sailed to Cuba on Saturday. They plan to begin the return trip Tuesday.

There are no oars or paddles in paddleboarding. Competitors lie on their stomachs or kneel on oversized boards, rowing with their arms in races usually ranging from 2 to 32 miles.

For about 20 hours, the women will paddle sleek, fiberglass boards _ 16 feet long and weighing 20 pounds _ across the Straits of Florida, fighting the strongest of currents in the shark-infested waters. A yacht will escort them as a safety precaution.

The women, all accomplished athletes and determined competitors, are counting on a full moon, the stars, a compass and a global positioning system to guide them.

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