Mon, Dec 31, 2012 - Page 4 News List

Distance swimmer to attempt 170km Cuba-to-US crossing

AFP, SYDNEY

An Australian open water distance swimmer who has made multiple crossings of the English Channel yesterday announced an ambitious bid to swim solo from Cuba to the US without a shark cage.

Chloe McCardel, 27, has twice won the Channel Swimming Association’s Sotiraki Cup for the fastest swim by a woman across the strait between England and France — last year and this year — and has also won the grueling Manhattan Island Marathon.

However, McCardel has set an even loftier goal for next year, unveiling plans to swim a daunting 170km solo and non-stop from Havana in Cuba to Florida’s Key West in about 60 to 70 hours.

If successful she will set a new world record for longest solo unassisted ocean swim, currently held by British-Australian Penny Palfrey for a 108km swim without shark cage or wetsuit in the Caribbean last year.

For the first time in history McCardel hopes to complete the testing Gulf Stream and Florida Straits crossing without the protection of a shark cage, compounding the difficulty of her daring feat.

“It is a great time of year to make this announcement, when so many people are celebrating the New Year and thinking about their own dreams and aspirations for the next 12 months,” said McCardel, who conceded her mother would probably “faint” after hearing her plans. “I really hope I can inspire more people to push their own boundaries or perceived limitations.”

US distance swimmer Diana Nyad, 63, was plucked from the water halfway across the same route earlier this year due to storms, hypothermia and jellyfish stings — her fourth attempt at the challenge.

The swim in June next year will raise funds for cancer research and support services and McCardel has said no sharks will be harmed “by the conduct of anyone involved during the swim.”

A conservationist will be on board the support vessel.

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