Swimming from Cuba to Florida? Australian woman will attempt it this month

Jay Busbee
June 5, 2013

Summer's a time for lounging in the pool, unless you're Chloe McCardel, in which case summer is for taking a little 100-plus-mile swim.

McCardel, a 27-year-old Australian long-distance swim specialist, will be attempting to swim from Cuba to the United States, a distance of 105 miles. If she's able to do so, she'll be the first person, male or female, ever to do without the use of a shark cage, and she'll establish a record for the longest solo unassisted ocean swim.

McCardel will be using what's known as "English Channel Rules," meaning she can't touch the boat accompanying her, can't use any flotation devices, can't use any snorkels or flippers, and can't make use of anything that might possibly help her progress. Not even friendly dolphins.

What this means is that McCardel will be in motion for an estimated 55 to 60 hours without any form of assistance. She'll have to swim, recover, replenish energy, everything while still in the water.

“You’re extremely exposed to the condition of the water,” McCardel told USA Today. “You can’t build a tent or rest up and have a nap. You can’t slow down or have a rest. While I’m feeding, I tread water. It’s quite tiring to be upright in the water treading water and having a feed.”

A crew of 32 will accompany McCardel, including medical professionals, meteorologists, and — this sounds ominous — shark divers. The swim will cost an estimated $150,000, but McCardel will also be using the swim to raise money for various Australian cancer charities.

The current world record is the 67 miles between Grand Cayman Island and Little Cayman, established by Penny Paltrey in 2011. Diana Nyad has made four attempts at the Cuba-to-Florida jaunt, and all have failed because of problems such as weather complications and jellyfish stings.

For more information, check out McCardel's website right here.

-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-